Ad-funded Microsoft Works pilot starting soon

Microsoft is now ready to talk turkey about the ad-funded version of its home/small-business productivity suite. "Microsoft is initiating a pilot program featuring an ad-funded version of Microsoft Works – Microsoft Works SE 9," officials said in the late afternoon on August 1.

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.


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