Microsoft Works. It's always been sort of an ironic name for a product, because it just barely works. Sure, if all you need is a basic spreadsheet, calendar, or word processor, MS Works will do. But since it can't handle most MS Office documents, Works is barely worth the $50 you'd have to pay if you actually went out and bought a copy.
All of which is to say we have mixed feelings when we hear that Microsoft plans to launch the next version of Works as free, advertising supported software. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley got the scoop on the new product from Microsoft V.P. Satya Nadella, but nobody else from the company has confirmed the details.
On the one hand, it's great to see Microsoft exploring ways to raise revenue without charging consumers an arm and a leg. On the other hand, a number of other companies have released free MS Office competitors such as OpenOffice.org, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and Zoho. Releasing Works, a stripped down version of Office hardly seems like the way to compete.