ASP99: Microsoft to offer Office suite to rent over the Net

Conference kicks off with buzz over Microsoft's Web-app announcement.

ASP99 began Thursday morning in London's Park Lane hotel with many a pre-conference coffee chat turning to Microsoft's groundbreaking announcement that they will offer the Office suite to rent over the Internet.

With the market for rented software expected to grow to £11bn by early in the next century according to analysts, an endorsement of the viability of the rented sector by the world's largest software company is seen as highly significant. The move by Microsoft follows recent developments at Sun Microsystems, which is now offering an office suite to download for free from their Web site.

The question on everyone's lips at ASP99 is when and how much. A Microsoft spokesman said that he expected the announcement to be viewed positively by the ASP industry.

The conference has attracted an impressive list of exhibitors, including many big network players such as Nortel and Cisco, who are hosting seminars later Thursday. ZDNN will be reporting live from the conference throughout the day.

More to follow.

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