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Microsoft To Offer Office Online for Free, Apparently

We were wondering when this would happen. We've asked here many times over the last couple of years whether we'd ever see a true hosted version of Office from Microsoft -- and unless Stephen Elop somehow falls from power and Microsoft changes direction dramatically in the months to come, the answer appears to be yes.

Yes, we will see a hosted version of Office, that is. Elop said as much this week, and he didn't stop there. Apparently, Redmond is looking at offering multiple pricing models for hosted Office, including the one that attracts us the most at first glance: free.

Well, of course, nothing is totally free. The free version of Office will be advertising-supported, naturally, so the potential for ads grabbing screen space will be high. Still, though, Microsoft is promising compatibility between desktop Office and hosted Office...as well as hosted version of Exchange and SharePoint.

Clearly, Microsoft doesn't want to fall (further?) behind in the field of hosted applications, meaning the giant sees real potential in the SaaS (or even S+S) model. And it's that type of endorsement that'll help carry SaaS from potentially interesting model to everyday enterprise reality.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 11, 2008 at 11:55 AM