news office 2010 starter to supplant microsoft works
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Office 2010 Starter to supplant Microsoft Works

Say goodbye to Microsoft Works and hello to ad-supported software and license-only retail cards. That’s the gist of a recent post on the Office 2010 Engineering blog, where Office Corporate VP Takeshi Numoto announced Office 2010 Starter alongside other, new ways in which Microsoft will distribute Office 2010.

Office Starter 2010 will be a free, ad-supported version of the productivity suite, and you’ll find it bundled exclusively on pre-built PCs. The software will include special versions of Word and Excel with the same interfaces and document formats as their full-featured counterparts, but only “basic functionality for creating, viewing and editing documents.” Users will be able to upgrade to full-featured editions “directly from within the product.”

Another upgrade path will come in the form of Office Product Key Cards, which will apparently apply to trial versions of the software, as well. You’ll be able to buy the key cards in retail stores, but they won’t come with DVD media—just a license key code for Office 2010 Home & Student, Home & Business, or Professional. Microsoft touts this approach as less wasteful and more straightforward. Since some customers will already have the software installed on their PCs in one form or another, an installation DVD could indeed be redundant.

Numoto says a “broad beta” of Office 2010 will be out “later this year.” The final product should be out in the first half of 2010.

0 responses to “Office 2010 Starter to supplant Microsoft Works

  1. This is definitely a concern to me. I have used Works since the days before Windows 95 because I like the user-friendliness of it. Over the years, I have made a LOT of files with Works quite happily.

  2. So long as Office 2010 will open up all those Works files that my customers still hang on to, no problem.

  3. MS Works. Wow, that brings back good memories. P2-266, 48MB of RAM, Win 95, Netscape Navigator, Quake, and Works 4.0…pretty much all I needed in 1997.

  4. I’ll admit that for “office work” I use Open Office at home, though I do use M$ Office at work.

    In additional to Open Office vs. Office, this is also a way for Microsoft to streamline development resources. One Office codebase, and multiple variations (starter, student/academic, professional) and not have to maintain the Works codebase.

    Similar (though by no means the same) when they moved from the DOS kernel of Win 9X/ME to the NT kernel with XP. How many versions of Win7 are there: starter, home basic, home premium, business, ultimate, OEM versions, upgrade versions?

  5. The last few software packages I’ve gotten (business level apps) were on USB keys/online distribution, with no DVD media available. I wonder if some macs/netbooks without Optical are really changing things that fastg{<.<}g

  6. Oh, please. If that’s what you do, skip over the double-tongued fishmeal about your “support” and just say the words “I like stealing easier”.

  7. The more you think about it, the more you realise optical media should be replaced with online distribution and memory based solutions.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to buy a movie or game that is a USB ROM stick? (USB 2.0’s 480Mb/s is faster than a 12x Blu-ray drive).

    The only advantage optical media has is the low cost per MB or GB.

  8. You would be surprised.

    There are groups of enthusiasts out there that spend considerable amount of their time knocking down every barrier Microsoft puts up. Things like writing their own circumvention apps and getting regular Jane/Joe PC user to help test.

    It certainly says something when you can turn your “you have 30 days to activate” install; to a legit, full blown product in a single-click and reboot.

    Its a Win-Win => They love the challenge, and Jane/Joe PC user gets to use Windows 7 or Vista Ultimate at $0; while at the same time passing every Genuine Advantage test…As far as MS is concerned, they’re using a legit copy of Windows or MS Office!

    I would prefer them not to break laws and such, to improve OpenOffice so that it becomes a better rival. (At least taken more seriously)…The amount of time they spend breaking down MS’s walls, would be better used on contributing to something legal and free for all.

  9. If someone knows anywhere near enough to do that then they’ve probably already downloaded Open Office.

  10. I wonder if they’ll have Office 2010 Starter discs distributed eveywhere, or if it truely will be a media-free product.

  11. At less than 600MB for even the biggest version of office 2007, they’ll have to bloat the hell out of it before it gets to 4GB for word 2010.

    Also note the click-to-run download for 2010, which lets you start the program with a smaller initial download then streams the rest of it in the background as you use it.

  12. Heh, I forgot Works even existed!

    Personally, I’m in favor of this “ad-supported” method, as long as their just ads, nothing else (spyware). There’s many programs that I use but not enough to pay full dollar. I realize developers need to get paid, so I’d download an ad-supported version of what-ever software it is I’m using. Of course, this wouldn’t stop me from finding a program that blocks those ads : )

  13. digital distribution of multi-gigabyte games,been fine for years. i’ve also downloaded my full copy of ms office 2k7 professional from MS servers with no problem this past year.

    anything more would probably attract the fire from the EU for anti-trust behavior. which is also probably why the ms windows live apps like movie maker are download add-ins also.

  14. I didn’t say that was the only reason to knock OpenOffice, just that that was the one it shared with Works.

    And yeah, the reduced ecosystem surrounding Works is a problem (I’ve seen Office for Dummies in my grocery store but I don’t think I’ve seen anything for Works). The funny thing about Works is that a lot of users need less hand-holding anyway because it’s less complicated and better designed for casual users than Office ever was. And it’s not like the new Office ribbon interface vs the old one is any greater of a difference (or a problem when trying to do blind phone support).

  15. The “Starter” editions will come pre-installed on your Dell (or whatever) PC, just like Works does now. Nothing to download (except for the ads) — until you want to upgrade. Then you’re downloading a “fuller” edition (though hopefully they’ll do it as a delta so it won’t be /[

  16. Okaaay. When I saw the title, I was thinking, “Great, good riddance to Works”, but then I read on… STUPID! How is it going to work? On-line download only? 4 GB? How is it going to work for those who don’t have internet? Ad-support, oh c’mon!

    I can go on and on, but man! This is going to create more problem, not get rid of them…

    Or maybe it is Friday and I need to go home?

  17. The problem with Works, at least in my eyes, has always been the support from those near by. I can tell people how to do something in Office 2007, 2003, etc, etc. But Works? Not a clue, I wouldn’t even know what the last version of Works interface looked like.

    Also, there are a number of reasons for people knocking OpenOffice beyond not being the “real deal.”

  18. This is much better than Microsoft Works or even a trial version of Office. Most people don’t need Office for more than the very basics and ads are not a big deal. I know people are going to start shouting “just use OpenOffice/Google Docs/Whatever” but often times that simply isn’t an option. An ad-supported Office means they’ll have compatibility guaranteed and the level of support from other users will be MUCH higher as Office is what most people use at work.

    My only issue is that sending out a DVD would be a good idea.

    Overall though I think this is a good move by Microsoft.

  19. Microsoft has been trying to kill Works for years, but were never able to trim down Word and Excel in a way that would provide reasonable functionality in small footprint while still leaving enough off the table to drive upgrade sales to “real Office.”

    I guess now they have. Or least they think they have. We’ll have to see how painful Office “Starter” actually is. Works was really a fine, lightweight product for home users (who often didn’t need “Office compatibility” as much as they thought they did) and it typically was “free” — but it suffered by being “not really Word, not really Excel” (which has always been the knock on all the other alternatives like OpenOffice).

    The Office Product Key Cards are an interesting idea, but what’s the mechanism for re-installs when your HD has died or you’ve had to wipe the system?