Microsoft has stopped giving PC manufacturers a stripped-down version of the Office 2010 productivity suite to bundle with their computers.
This week Microsoft stopped including Office Starter 2010 in the preinstallation kits it supplies to manufacturers. Introduced in 2009, Office Starter 2010 included basic versions of Word and Excel, but not PowerPoint or Outlook.
"We will begin to phase out the shipment of PCs with Office Starter 2010," Microsoft said in a statement sent to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet.com. "After Windows 8 becomes available, most new PCs shipped will not have Office Starter."
"People who use Office Starter 2010 today will continue to be able to use the product for the life of their PC. For Windows7/Office Starter 2010 users who want to upgrade their PC to Windows 8 and continue using Office Starter 2010, they will have to install an update to Microsoft Office 2010 which is available today," the statement continued.
The new preinstallation kit being sent out to manufacturers includes a "transition" experience that lets users try or buy the fully-fledged Office 2010 suite.
According to sources quoted by Foley, the other side of this transition will likely see Windows users encouraged to adopt Office Web Apps, the software-as-a-service version of the programs traditionally included in the desktop suite.
The next version of the suit will be Office 2013, currently codenamed Office 15. A beta of this version is expected to appear in the coming weeks.