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Microsoft’s original Works debate

Microsoft is taking a cautious approach to the advertising-based version of its Microsoft Works suite, starting with a limited pilot program. That’s not a surprise, considering how much money the company makes on traditional software licensing fees from its Office programs. Microsoft is no doubt wary of hurting that business by offering consumers widespread access to its own, free alternative.

But this isn’t the first time Microsoft has grappled with questions about the impact of Works on its business. And the way the company approached the situation in the past might just provide some clues about how it could proceed from here.

In a 2004 speech to business students at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business, Microsoft’s Jeff Raikes told the story of how the company originally came to offer the low-end productivity suite. I covered the speech at the time, and based on the Microsoft Works news this week, I went back and found my recording. Here’s what Raikes said on the subject:

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