How many of you have received files from students (or even teachers' home computers) and been unable to open them because they're in Works format? Sure, there's a converter utility, but it's one more thing to install on the computers you manage and doesn't help if you're using a Mac, Linux, or Google Apps. Of course, since it's pre-installed on most home PCs, many of our students don't think about the file format issue.
Guess what? Now they won't have to. According to PC World, Works is being replaced by an ad-supported, stripped down version of Office 2010. While "Starter 2010" is fairly anemic (it includes bare-bones versions of Word and Excel only), it should meet the home needs of most students.
To be honest, though, my interest in Starter 2010 has nothing to do with its utility. OpenOffice and Google Apps offer more functionality for free. What I care about are the file formats. Jeff Bertolucci explains that Works
...had its quirks, however, such as forcing you to save a document in the Works format, even if the file had previously been saved in another format.
When students fire up their home computer and just start typing a report (since most won't take the time to compare the merits of available open source and cloud alternatives to that big W that came with their computer), what they'll produce is a Word document that we can all read. Microsoft's Web Apps will be able to handle it, Google Docs can handle it, OpenOffice can handle it.
Works is dead. Long live generally accessible file formats.