Microsoft has plans to make its Office free for its users so that they can download it from the net directly.

Free Microsoft Office To Go Online
Last Updated: 2009-07-14T11:56:16+05:30
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Microsoft Office To Go Free Online
Microsoft Corp has plans for releasing three versions of the Office software that users can access over the Web. This decision has been taken by Microsoft to compete with products that its rival Google Inc had launched three years ago.
It is the latest barrage in the intensifying war happening between Microsoft and Google. Google had announced plans for challenging Windows 7 with a free operating system. Microsoft had introduced a new search engine, Bing, last month.
"Microsoft is finally making the conversion through the Web-based world. First, we saw that through Bing. Now we are seeing that through Office," said Jefferies & Co analyst Katherine Egbert.
Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program.
Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee. Companies with premium service contracts will have the choice of running a second Web-based version from their own data centers at no extra cost.
But the free version of Office could hurt sales of Microsoft's top-selling and most profitable unit. One of Office's most popular titles is a home version that sells for $150. It includes the four programs that Microsoft will give away.
"Microsoft is in a tough spot. Their competition isn't just undercutting them. They are giving away the competitive product," said Sheri McLeish, an analyst with Forrester Research.
The Office division rang up operating profit of $9.3 billion on sales of $14.3 billion in the first three quarters of the software maker's current fiscal year.

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