Microsoft To Offer Office software Programs Free

According to a report by Reuters, Microsoft will release a free version of Office software programs when it starts selling Office 2010, major release of the product, in the first half of next year. It 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 unveiled an early release on Monday at a conference for business partners in New Orleans. It will be distributed to tens of thousands of testers. Office 2010 is among a wave of upgrades to Microsoft programs planned over the next year. A new version of its ubiquitous Windows operating system is coming out in October and a new version of its widely used email server is also in the works.

The Company spokeswoman Janice Kapner said the free Web version will provide 'a very rich experience' and probably have more functionality than Googles. However, analysts have predicted an intensifying war between the two technology giants, even as Google announced plans last week to challenge Windows with a free operating system after Microsoft introduced a new search engine.