Here's some good news for all you cloud computing fans out there. According to reports in the United States and Japan, the next iteration of Microsoft's widely used Office suite may be offered completely free of charge online.
Sure, you might feel a slight bombardment of Microsoft tailored ads, but in this economy, nothing beats the lovely sound of zero dollars leaving your pocket. More details, after the jump.
The web-based Office suite will look and run sort of like its Google counterpart, Google Docs, and will be supported by ads embedded within the pages. We've enjoyed using Google Docs before, but we've always found the set of tools rather lacking when it came to a streamlined interface for intuitive use, especially when we tried more complex actions that just made more sense to launch Excel and do it there. We just hope Microsoft does a better job (they should, theoretically - since they own Office, after all), and maybe we'll accept a slow stream of irrelevant ads into our workspace.
As for all you non-cloud computing proponents, don't worry. Microsoft still intends on releasing the standard non-ad-supported, boxed versions at the same time of launch, which should be sometime later next year. Lastly, as with all news updates prior to the actual product before launch, all of this should be taken as pure speculation until Microsoft confirms or denies it otherwise.
What do you guys think? Is this a smart move by Microsoft? Let us know in the comments!