Microsoft announced plans to release a free, advertising-supported service that would allow users to access versions of its Office applications through a standard web browser. Google offers their own services for $50 per year, as does IBM with their Lotus Symphony.
Corporate customers will have the option of buying the service through a subscription or software licensing plan although pricing has not yet been determined. Caveat – the online versions won’t include all of the features of the traditional software (which almost makes it unreasonable for most companies).
They plan to release the new version in early 2010, along with a new OS to replace the very unpopular Vista.
Microsoft is trying to retain customers that could move over to Google or IBM for cost-savings. Licensing should be interesting when they do finally monetize (and Microsoft will monetize).