Crazy like a fox? Microsoft to release an ad-supported, introductory version of Office 2010

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Years ago, when Microsoft started pushing Internet Explorer, it enjoyed favorable adoption rates because, well, it’s already on there, so why not use it? (Law-breaking aside, of course!) That may be what Microsoft is thinking this time around with Office 2010. Redmond will allow OEMs to install Office Starter 2010 on brand new Windows 7 PCs. It will be a pared down version of Office, and one that will be ad-supported. That, of course, has caused the Internet to freak out.

Microsoft is doing this to get people hooked, I guess, on the real version of Office, and to prevent people from using free, online alternatives like Google Docs. The theory is, if you give people a taste of Office, and let them use it without too many restrictions, then why would they go out of their way to find an alternative? Not everyone wants to replace their Windows shell with some fancy thingamajig.

So you’ll have this ad-supported version of Office, which doesn’t include Power Point or Outlook, but then PC vendors will be able to sell license cards at retail, sorta like how you can buy Microsoft Points at Best Buy or Wal-Mart. You buy the card, then use the printed serial number to “upgrade” the starter edition to the Real Deal.

That’s the thing: even though you’re limited in what you can do with the ad-supported version of Office, it’s 100 percent the full software suite residing on your hard drive. That mean cracks will be available within 15 seconds of the first ISO leaking from the manufacturing facilities.

What this means for Microsoft’s online version of Office, which was also supposed to be a sort of introductory version of Office, is totally unknown.

And yet I wonder how many people out there in Radio Land are still running Word 97—Word is the one application that pretty much everyone can use; not everyone needs Outlook or Power Point, you know—because it works just fine?

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