After years of exploring the matter, Microsoft has finally started offering an ad-funded version of Microsoft Works in some countries.
Users who run the software see a small ad as they are writing their document or editing their spreadsheet. Although the program has the ability to update its set of ads online, today it runs mostly ads for Microsoft and a few partners, all of which ship with the product itself.
Works SE (which stands for Sponsored Edition) is free to PC makers, though they don't get a cut of the ad revenue. Large computer makers typically only pay a buck or two for the low-end version of Works, though.
The ad-funded Works falls into a category of several products the company is exploring, rather than a significant new source of revenue, said Microsoft Vice President Chris Capossela.
"This is a trial," he said. "This is a pilot. This is a 'Can we build software that will do this?' "
Microsoft has been considering such a product for some time, with many inside the company arguing that Microsoft could make significantly more money for Works by selling advertising than it gets in revenue from computer makers for the product.
Capossela said the early response to the free product has been positive. "People have liked the price," he said with a laugh, adding that it has also not been perceived as that intrusive, something Microsoft had worried about.
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