Microsoft To Offer Web-Based Version Of Office Software
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said it will offer a Web-based version of its Office operating system for free as the software giant looks to battle free Web-based software from Google Inc. (GOOG) and increased competition from open-source products.
Google recently announced it would turn its Chrome Internet browser into an operating system, which co-founder Larry Page said was kind of an anti-operating system - basically indistinguishable from a browser. The company said netbooks loaded with Chrome will boot up almost instantaneously and will store data on the Internet instead of a hard drive.
Page and Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt have been careful not to position Chrome as a competitor to Microsoft Windows, saying it would expand the market for netbooks.
But the Chrome Web browser and others, such as Mozilla Firefox, have eaten into the share held by Microsoft's once-ubiquitous Internet Explorer.
Microsoft said Monday that Office Web applications would be available through Windows Live, where more than 400 million consumers will get access to the Office Web applications for free; on premises for Office volume licensing customers; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to buy a subscription.
The company also said Monday it would cut the number of Office editions to five from eight. Starting Monday, people will be able to preview the new Office 2010 as part of the company's preview program.