According to Reuters, Microsoft will try offering an ad-supported version of its entry-level Works package as a counter to Google Docs, which I have written just about every column in for at least the past six months. However, Microsoft will distribute the software only through OEMs, which is somewhat strange as it limits the broad audience that Web distribution could bring.
Works may be more popular overseas, but we still see PC vendors bundling the far more functional if often just as ignored WordPerfect Office here in the U.S. and I suspect more companies will start looking to OpenOffice over time. It’s been especially challenged since the “student” version of Office became the standard consumer one for all intents and purpsoes.
It would be great to see Microsoft remake Works as a deluxe version of LiveWriter. For example, it could be a lot simpler to put a simple table or calculation in a blog post. Also, as ThinkFree is showing, much of the client value of software in an AJAX world is about seamless offline work and synchronization.
In any case, I remember when the future looked brighter for integrated packages, at least on the Mac, where there was once at least five integrated software programs including Microsoft Works, ClarisWorks, and the very obscure HandiWorks, Ragtime and ClarisWorks-like BeagleWorks. I did a comparative review of them eons ago in what must have been one of the sunset ssues of A+ Magazine.
After bringing the rebadged AppleWorks to OS X, though, Apple scrapped it in favor of iWork, which seems to be in a kind of limbo. Pages reminds me of the elegance of MacWrite II and Pro, but Keynote is just geared toward a different kind of presentation than PowerPoint — arguably a better kind of presentation but simply not how businesses communicate today.