Last week, Mary Jo Foley interviewed Satya Nadella, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Search & Advertising Platform Group, who revealed that Microsoft Works 9 would be free and ad-supported. This was apparently a shock to the rest of Microsoft since Microsoft Works 9 is currently offered on their web site for $39.95 or less (although it isn’t in stock at the retail partners listed), the demo shows no ads, and the Microsoft PR crew is saying “no comment.”
If you aren’t familiar with Microsoft Works, it’s a “lite” office application suite generally bundled on new PCs from OEMs who sign up for it and it is also available at retail. Works famously isn’t particularly profitable, perhaps because it unfairly gets lumped in with all the “craplets” that comes bundled on new PCs. However, there have been rumblings that Works might form the basis for a new Web-based office suite that would compete with Google and the other Web office application offerings.
If so, Microsoft Works 9 isn’t there yet, because while it may eventually be free and ad-supported, there’s no hint that it is Web-based. Of course, that may be exactly how Microsoft wants it as an exemplar of “Software plus Services” although in this case, the service part needs some further work if it isn’t merely to be fresh ads.