Ina Fried has the buzz at CNET:
Even as Microsoft readies a host of new ad-supported online services to battle rivals, the software maker has been mulling a plan to offer free, ad-supported versions of some of its desktop products, CNET News.com has learned.
Although no specific plans have been made, executives within Microsoft are examining whether it makes sense to release ad-supported versions of products such as Works, Money, or even the Windows operating system itself, according to internal documents seen by CNET News.com.
“As Web advertising grows and consumer revenues shrink, we need to consider creating ad-supported versions of our software,” two Microsoft researchers and an MSN employee wrote in a paper presented to company executives earlier this year. The document was prepared for one of Microsoft’s twice-yearly Thinkweek exercises in which Chairman Bill Gates and others top executives gather to consider potential new avenues for the company.
Microsoft officials confirmed the authenticity of the paper, dated Winter 2005, but declined to comment on its contents. However, a Microsoft source characterized the paper as an internal brainstorming exercise.
The characterization is undoubtedly correct, but shows the kind of input that Gates and Ozzie were considering before the big online services push revealed last week.