Microsoft is quietly offering an advertising supported version of its Works office suit in some countries. CNET reports the software features some small ads for Microsoft and a few partners and is shipped for free to PC makers:
Users who run the software see a small ad as they are writing their document or editing their spreadsheet. Although the program has the ability to update its set of ads online, today it runs mostly ads for Microsoft and a few partners, all of which ship with the product itself.
Works SE (which stands for Sponsored Edition) is free to PC makers, though they don't get a cut of the ad revenue. Large computer makers typically only pay a buck or two for the low-end version of Works, though.
The ad-funded Works falls into a category of several products the company is exploring, rather than a significant new source of revenue, said Microsoft Vice President Chris Capossela.
"This is a trial," he said. "This is a pilot. This is a 'Can we build software that will do this?' "