Microsoft is to drop support for its MS Works 9.0 software suite in October 2012.
The move is part of the software giant’s drive to push customers towards MS Office 2010 and away from free alternatives such as OpenOffice.org and Google Docs.
Works, which made its debut in 1986, will no longer ship with new PCs after Office 2010 launches on the 2nd of June. From this date, it will be replaced with MS Office Starter 2010 Edition, a cut-down variant of the full Office 2010 package.
Thinking of updating your office suite? Find out what package was awarded a Which? Best Buy
Office Starter 2010 will include limited versions of Word and Excel, but no Outlook or database component. Though users will be encouraged to upgrade to the full version of Office 2010, Office Starter is not considered to be a demo version and, as such, has no usage time limit.
The expert view
Commenting on Microsoft’s decision to replace Works with Office Starter, Richard Edwards principal analyst at Ovum said: ‘The Starter edition of Office isn’t a replacement for Works. It would have been better if Microsoft had included Outlook as part of the Office Starter package as it would have been a better showcase of the Office 2010 suite.
‘I think Microsoft has missed an opportunity to some extent. However, Office Starter will be critical in getting people over to the threshold of Office 2010. Because it’s a cut down version of Office 2010, I don’t think it will do any harm to OpenOffice.org.’
Significantly, Office Starter will also contain advertising, though currently this is restricted to Microsoft products only. Ovum’s Edwards did not think this would this would be a turn off ‘as people are used to them from web based products’.
A Dell UK spokesperson said that as of June 2nd, Office Starter will come pre-installed as standard on their current Inspiron, Studio and Studio XPS systems
Acer and Asus will also include the product from that date. John Swatton, marketing specialist for Asus applauded the move. ‘The best way to get people to upgrade is to give them a taster of it’, he said.
Thinking of upgrading your PC, read Which? reviews for netbooks, laptops and desktops
How to follow the latest Which? Tech news
Are you a Twitter user? Follow WhichTech on Twitter for regular tech tweets.
Prefer RSS? Don’t miss a thing with the Which? tech RSS feed.
For just the main headlines in newsletter form, sign-up to our weekly Which? tech email.
Apple iPad 2 3G data plans compared – find the best 3G plan for your iPad
Best Android tablets round-up – we look at the best iPad alternatives around
Best cheap laptops for under £500 – find the best laptop deals