On the afternoon of August 1, Microsoft finally decided to talk officially about its plans for an ad-funded version of Microsoft Works.
Courtesy of a Microsoft spokeswoman, via e-mail:
"Microsoft is initiating a pilot program featuring an ad-funded version of Microsoft Works – Microsoft Works SE 9."
"Since its release in 1986, Microsoft Works has been providing consumers with a low-cost solution for their productivity. Available in 3 3 languages and broadly distributed by OEM’s and through retail, Works continues to be an important offering for Microsoft partners and a great solution for customers.
"This pilot will be distributed by a select group of participating OEM’s and will be rolling out over the next few months - continuing through the middle of next year."
Microsoft also is continuing to provide a paid version of its Microsoft Works consumer/small-business productivity package. Version 9.0 of the non-ad-funded version of Works 9 product will sell for $39.95, according to a posting on Microsoft's Web site.
I've asked Microsoft for more info on the ad-funded version of Works. I
will update this post once I hear back.
Update: Microsoft is willing to say very little beyond what is in its prepared statement about the Works 9 SE pilot. The company won't talk about which countries will be included, which OEMs will partake, how many users will participate, or the exact start/end dates for the ad-funded Works pilot.
The Works 9.0 SE (which isn't an acronym for anything, according to Senior Product Manager Melissa Stern) version will be a desktop-client product. Ads -- from vendors which Microsoft declined to disclose -- will appear in the Works task pane and task launcher. The ads will be served up by Microsoft's display-ad platform, Stern said.
Is Microsoft also preparing to launch a hosted service version of Works? Stern declined to comment.