Microsoft is to offer a free version of its Works office productivity package. The bundle of programs – including the word processor and spreadsheet - will be supported by advertising.
A test version of the new model will begin within months and continue until half way through 2008, with Works 9 SE being installed on selected new PCs. Microsoft Works is available in the UK for around £30.
The adverts will be shown to users in the bottom corners of the interface as they work on documents and will refresh each time they connect to the internet. Using knowledge Microsoft has gathered about typical users of the application, the company will ensure adverts are relevant.
Free Works users will also be able to download a free trial of Office 2007 or upgrade to the £21 version of Works 9 from within the free suite.
The office productivity software will be in competition with rivals in the free-applications space incuding Google's Google Apps offerings.