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Microsoft Quietly Offering Ad-Funded Version of Works 122

Posted by timothy
from the nielsen-ratings-are-next dept.
mikesd81 writes "News.com reports Microsoft has finally started offering an ad-funded version of Microsoft Works in some countries. 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. Microsoft remains cagey on the details of where you can find Works SE. The company has been testing Works SE in 5 countries: The United States, France, Canada, Poland and the United Kingdom. It is available only through select computer makers and Microsoft won't say which computer makers those are. However, it seems Sony is offering it in the US."
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Microsoft Quietly Offering Ad-Funded Version of Works

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  • Works? (Score:5, Funny)

    by calebt3 (1098475) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:06PM (#23128990)
    It still exists?
    • Re:Works? (Score:4, Funny)

      by arivanov (12034) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:25PM (#23129114) Homepage
      Wrong question.

      The right one is "It works?"

      Disclaimer: this is not a flamebait. I just spent half a day fighting to convert a document produced with this oxymoron into something that could be read.
      • by calebt3 (1098475)
        OOo couldn't read it?
        • by arivanov (12034)
          Nope. In fact none of the Microsoft Office apps can open it without a special converter which is buggy and fails on a lot of the formatting.
          • by ais523 (1172701)
            I've had success before now renaming a Works spreadsheet from .xlr to .xls (just changing the extension, the operation that people are supposed to do because they don't understand how file types work) and then opening with OpenOffice; I'm not sure if this is because the two formats are similar enough that OpenOffice can decode both of them the same way or if the .xls just tells it to load some Microsoft-format converters it has, though. It wasn't complex formatting, though (is that even possible in Works?).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sconeu (64226)
        That's a well known PC oxymoron -- "Microsoft Works"
        • by xOneca (1271886)

          Microsoft Works
          I would say Microsoft doesn't work a lot. M$ does a lot of copy/paste, but that isn't "to work".
        • Re:Works? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Plutonite (999141) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @05:58PM (#23130188)
          Speaking of oxymorons and innuendo and such: did anyone notice the rackspace ads running on the top bar here on slashdot?

          ..its going that extra mile, reaching a little deeper

          If you need a partner, it's Rackspace!
          No comment.
    • Not only that, but amazingly people still use it!

      We had a secretary just a year ago or so that got a new laptop that only came with Works, so she would email out documents as Works files, which no one could open (even Office complains about it!).

      Finally a few of us confronted her, saying we couldn't open her Works files, and we tried to get her OpenOffice to make it easier.

      Her response was "Well, Works came with the computer, it's good enough and I don't want to go messing with it." As far as I know, she st
      • by CSMatt (1175471)
        A valid counter-response: WildTanget used to come preinstalled on a lot of PCs as well. Is that also good enough to "[not] want to go messing with it"?
      • by tftp (111690)
        Her response was "Well, Works came with the computer, it's good enough and I don't want to go messing with it." As far as I know, she still uses it. UGH! At least she isn't secretary anymore.

        Indeed, I can't imagine any sane manager who would listen to IT opinions from his secretary. "Either you use what I tell you to use, or you are free to go and work for someone else. It's not just the matter of me being evil, it's mostly the fact that I can't read what you write. Makes you kind of useless here, eh?

        • by rtb61 (674572)
          I have dealt with a lot of companies and, over time I have seen lot's of managers taking all sorts of advice from the secretaries, regardless of the secretaries level of business expertise, the level of the secretaries control over the business often related to their skills in other more private areas of human social interaction.

          I have to say I am really looking forward to seeing someone running ad supported M$ (doesn't)Work, instead of free openofficer.org, and yes, quite cruelly, I will laugh at them an

    • It still does more then what 95% of the public needs. Its cheap, and does the job.

      Though i saw the latest version the other day and it looks pretty hokey with all the wizards..
    • by Nimey (114278)
      It's up to version 9, even.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      "It still exists?"

      It exists to sell Office, kind of like herpes sells acyclovir...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is that like "military intelligence" or "jumbo shrimp".
  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:10PM (#23129018) Homepage Journal
    MS Works is currently the #1 trouble child for us to do data migration from older systems.
    • by davolfman (1245316) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:48PM (#23129260)
      To be honest I'd never suggest it with OpenOffice available in this day and age it just makes no sense. The value of Microsoft products in compatibility and when you can get a more compatible product for less money Works has no reason to exist except for widespread ignorance of the existence of OpenOffice.
      • by domatic (1128127)
        What's funny about that is that I've used OpenOffice to convert Works documents to Office documents.
        • Which in my experience is a royal pain to try to do with Office when everyone who's not a geek loses their disks.
      • by DrXym (126579)
        Actually Works does have a reason to exist - it's easy to use, comes with a bunch of helpful task-centric wizards and is very accessible for computer novices. It might be complete dross compared to MS Office or OpenOffice, buts it's clear it has its place in world.

        My dad used to produce a magazine in MS Publisher and maintain the subscriptions Works spreadsheet. I couldn't persuade him to use anything better. This combo more or less did what he wanted so my extolling that Office (since OO didn't exist at

    • umm.. you are aware word supports it, right?

      http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HP011881161033.aspx [microsoft.com]

      also, sun's converter tool may help.. keep in mind that you can convert anything to pdf and then from pdf to almost anything if you really need to. I read about it.. but did not bookmark it.

      Is it perfect? No. Adequate for most things? Yes.
  • by gapagos (1264716) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:11PM (#23129030)
    In other news, Open Office is being offered WITHOUT ANY ADS for all platforms :-)
    http://download.openoffice.org/index.html [openoffice.org]
    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      Other alternatives don't make MS money. And it may be leaner than OOo. Not that I would touch it with even a virtual machine.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:55PM (#23129296)

      In other news, Open Office is being offered WITHOUT ANY ADS for all platforms :-)
      And unlike Microsoft Works, it can actually read Microsoft Office documents.
      • by MojoStan (776183)

        In other news, Open Office is being offered WITHOUT ANY ADS for all platforms :-)

        And unlike Microsoft Works, it can actually read Microsoft Office documents.

        I'm confused. Have you (and the moderators) used Works recently? I haven't (recently), but an easy-to-find "How to" article on Microsoft's support site says Works does read Office documents (Word and Excel, at least).

        From the article "File formats that are supported in Works 9" [microsoft.com]:

        • Works 9 Word Processor
          You can open the following file formats in the Works 9 Word Processor:
          • Works Documents (*.wps)
          • Works Templates (*.wpt)
          • [snip]
          • Word (Asian Versions) 6.0/95 (*.doc, *.dot)
          • Word 2.x for Windows
          • Word 2007 D
    • by dacut (243842) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @04:31PM (#23129584)
      Anyone want to help fund an ad for OpenOffice on MS Works?
      • by Dash Hash (955484)
        Even though the parent has been modded as "Funny" it is actually a pretty decent idea...

        But... There is a minor conundrum with it...
        On the one hand, purchasing ad space on MS Works will be giving money directly to Microsoft.
        On the other hand, it would be a potential loss of money for Microsoft over the long-term, if people start using OO.o as opposed to MS Works (losing out on the advertisement revenue).

        I think I'll have to do a bit of digging to see if doing something like this is actually feasible, and ho
    • In other news, Open Office is being offered WITHOUT ANY ADS for all platforms :-)

      In other news an entire office suite Open Office not only is without advertisements, it opens many more formats, saves in a open standard format, is multi-platform, and free. There, Fixed it.
      • Too bad OO.o sucks in general for the market that MS Works targets.

        MS Works on Windows and iWork on Mac target those that don't need the power of MS Office and OO.o, and don't want to deal with the complications of those apps. MS Works and iWork offer task-based templates to get simple tasks done quickly. MSO offers that as well, but to a lesser extent, and OO.o is woefully lacking in that sort of thing.
        • MS Works and iWork offer task-based templates to get simple tasks done quickly. MSO offers that as well, but to a lesser extent, and OO.o is woefully lacking in that sort of thing.
          --


          MS Works is targeting the Wordpad and Notepad group as a step up to MS Word. Unfortunately many documents saved in the old works format have migration issues. People remember this. It's not just a text editor like Notepad and it's not quite a word processor like MS Word. Open Office is lacking in task based templates, but do
  • Old News (Score:1, Informative)

    by Paiev (1233954)
    See http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=615 [zdnet.com]
    This has been going on for a while. My Sony laptop from December '07 came with this. It should be noted that the ad-funded version is available only to OEMs.
  • by conner_bw (120497) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:17PM (#23129072) Homepage Journal
    The COBOL-Standard Committee is said to have released an advertisement supported version of COBOL.
  • by cliffiecee (136220) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:19PM (#23129092) Homepage Journal
    I bet the ad floats RIGHT over the cursor. Gently bobbing around as you type.
    (Don't worry, it'll be mostly transparent, so you can sorta see what your typing.)
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:22PM (#23129098) Journal
    Is there anyone else besides me whom Microsoft Office 2007 drives completely bonkers? I have never had the gross misfortune of using such an unfriendly POS of an office suite, in my life. The only reason I did use it, was because I had to include some Powerpoint slides into a .ppt file prepared by my boss - so I HAD TO use the company-wide office suite - MS Office 2007 - even though otherwise we are quite free to use whatever we prefer. So I use OO.o usually and just publish my works in .pdf.

    Anyhow, it was a traumatic experience. "Where the eff is "Save as"? And how do I insert a slide? OK, how do I center-align this text? No, I don't want to insert Wordard or multimedia clips, thank you. Just a slide. And then save the file under a new name."

    For me, the value of an office program, like for example Powerpoint or Impress, is in the speed I can create the presentation (for example) and how good it will look in the end. OO.o Impress is more than adequate in that sense - Powerpoint 2007, well, it failed me. Same with OO.o Write vs Word 2007 - plus the added argument that OO.o creates standstds compliant documents which I will be able to open with a reader of my choice or own creation in 40 years from now. But yeah, the fact that I can create it quickly and without logic-killing brain-damaging consequences is the greatest value.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gapagos (1264716)
      Personally I use Office 2008 (for mac) where the GUI is very similar to 2007 and I do find the GUI counter-intuitive at times.

      However that's far from my main beef about it.
      Office 2008 (not sure about 07) has a HUGE memory leak problem.

      If I use it for a long time (including putting my computer to sleep, so like 24 hours), it sometimes uses 2GB of virtual memory. Yeah, that's right, 2GB for a 50kb document. Of course, under such conditions you have to expect the occasional crash.
      • by jonbryce (703250)
        Office 2008 does have a menu bar with things mostly where you would expect them to be (on a mac).
      • Actually, I used Office 2008 for Mac, and the interface is considerably more sane. It's different enough from Office 2007/Windows, that I didn't have any problems finding the various stuff and edit a fairly complex scientific document. The only (big) problem was that once I converted it to .pdf, the formulas looked like ass. Later I was told that it's a known bug and that when it does that, I should close Word and restart it, and do another conversion and then it usually the formulas look OK.
      • by kklein (900361)

        Nah, sorry, the UI is totally different. There's very little difference from Office 2004 to Office 2008. Sit down for awhile with 2007. It's a bleedin' nightmare.

        The only big changes I see in 2008 (which is what I mainly use these days) are the stupid Gallery that you can't get rid of (but can minimize), and the screwed-up way it deals with toolbars (which you can fix--I like the new one for Word, but have Excel running the way it used to). There are still menus, for crying out loud. Whose idea was i

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by InlawBiker (1124825)
      Coming from somebody who uses Office daily, whether I like it or not, I was in agreement with you for a while. Until I got used to the new interface. It is really greatly improved. Sometimes I hunt for a function still but on the whole it's now much more intuitive and easier to get to features without having to scroll through an endless series of drawdowns / pop-outs / more drawdowns.

      Anyway it's about time they did something new with Office. For the longest number of years I was hard-pressed to see an

      • by CSMatt (1175471)
        So, how do you manage to make charts without the chart wizard? The chart wizard was (and is) the most appealing thing in Excel for me, and consequently its removal was the most frustrating thing that I experienced in the short time I used Office 2007. In the 97-2003 days I could make a chart in about 2 minutes or less thanks to the wizard and some minor post-processing. In 2007 it took me at least 15-20, assuming I didn't just give up and try on another office suite.
        • by Z34107 (925136)

          It shouldn't take 15 or 20 minutes to make a chart in Excel 2007.

          Highlight your data. As I'm guessing you're aware of, all the different chart types have their own button under the "Insert" tab of the ribbon. Want a bar graph? Highlight your data and click the "Bar" button. You're done! 2 minutes => 1 mouse click.

          Need more nitpicking stuff? It already brought you over to the "design" tab. Pick out colors, choose what kind of legend and axis labeling you need, add error bars... They're all hid

          • by CSMatt (1175471)

            It shouldn't take 15 or 20 minutes to make a chart in Excel 2007.

            OK. I exaggerated. It took me 10 minutes, then I gave up and used Excel 2003.

            Highlight your data. As I'm guessing you're aware of, all the different chart types have their own button under the "Insert" tab of the ribbon. Want a bar graph? Highlight your data and click the "Bar" button. You're done! 2 minutes => 1 mouse click.

            Ha! It has never been that easy to create a chart for me. For one, Excel has a terrible time telling whether or not the data is "across" or "down." 3/4 of the time I have to tell it to switch from one to the other. The chart wizard let me preview the chart gave me me the option to change this ahead of time, almost as if it knew that it would not be able to detect this for me. Secondly, I would rather Excel ask me stuff abo

            • by Z34107 (925136)

              Interesting. I've managed to avoid the mandatory "Microsoft Office 101" classes because of crap like they put you through.

              But, if it helps, there's the "switch rows/columns" button on the design tab. If you think of the actual in-spreadsheet chart as your "preview" it's mostly the same.

              I like it, and like beating people over the head with it. I find it a lot more intuitive - the design/layout/format tabs don't appear if you don't have a chart, and do appear when you do, for example. I personally don

              • by CSMatt (1175471)

                I like it, and like beating people over the head with it. I find it a lot more intuitive - the design/layout/format tabs don't appear if you don't have a chart, and do appear when you do, for example. I personally don't feel the learning curve is that steep, but if 2003 works for you, you shouldn't have to keep learning a new version "just because."

                Well, during the brief time I used the new 2007 suite, I must admit that at times the Ribbon was easier to use than wading through menus. It was just Microsoft's lack of considering throwing in a "Classic" UI for everyone who could not or did not want to re-learn the interface just to get work done that angered me enough to ditch the software, especially considering that Microsoft was more than happy to put in such "Classic" UIs for Windows XP (and Windows Vista to a lesser extent).

                PS: I just found that a

      • by billcopc (196330)
        Agreed. My initial reaction was shock and frustration, but it quickly subsided once I got the hang of the Ribbon. Now I like it, and 2007 has brought a few tweaks and improvements to common tasks like charting and sorting, that make me life much easier.

        More importantly, most new users find 2007 very friendly and quick to learn. It's us veterans that are afraid of change. It's far from perfect, but for a dramatic shift in UI design, they got it pretty good for a first iteration. The next version will ho
    • Since you asked... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by symbolset (646467)

      Outlook 2007 has some rather interesting features. Typing in the middle of a paragraph - when the cursor crosses the line wrap the cursor is sometimes moved to a semi-random place in the text. That took a little getting used to. The last editor I used that had that problem -- well, I wrote it myself. :-(

      The "invisible text" in HTML emails bug is still present too. It's a holdover from O97. You would think they would fix that. Some people feel that having some of the text of their emails randomly delet

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by HillBilly (120575)
      The learning curve from previous versions of MS office to MS office 07 isn't that steep, if after a little while you are still having trouble its probably a sign of mild retardation. Sorry.
      • Interesting then, that all three of us are mildly retarded, and yet we are all young researchers. Kinda hard to survive in nanotech research while being retarded.

        Could it be that Microsoft just fscked up? I submit to you as a possibility that Microsoft has just shuffled around the interface in order to justify the publication of a new office suite, when there was nothing to "improve on" anymore.
        • More likely, since Office 2007 was made by Microsoft, you're predisposed hate it so you do. If Office 2007 were made by some OSS company, you'd be hailing it as a triumph of the OSS model, and you'd be ridiculing Microsoft for being stuck in the old UI paradigm of Office 2003 and its predcessors. And both you and I know it.
          • We really don't have time to engage in any emotional involvement with our computer software - not the OS, anyway. We need to test our mathematical models, we need our FEA package to do what it has to do (and if you have ever used Comsol Multiphysics you will see what is an unobtrusive interface that does what we need - no stupid ribbons, just your meat-and-potato menu system), and other SW of the kind, which is difficult enough to use because you have to understand the whole background - so we don't want to
    • by T-Bone-T (1048702)

      Anyhow, it was a traumatic experience. "Where the eff is "Save as"? And how do I insert a slide? OK, how do I center-align this text? No, I don't want to insert Wordard or multimedia clips, thank you. Just a slide. And then save the file under a new name."
      Really? You're joking, right? Maybe I'm special or something because it took me all of 5 minutes to go through all the programs and figure it out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Z34107 (925136)

      Office 2007 (with the "ribbon") is the biggest thing to happen to the Office suite since Windows 95. Quit whining that they moved the buttons around just that tiny little bit - I found features and said "Oh, wow! I wish that was in other versions of Office, too!" only to realize that it was - I just couldn't find it until now.

      When you start Powerpoint (or any part of Office 2007) for the first time, the little round Office logo in the top left will glow and a pop up will tell you "Here is where the Save

      • I found features and said "Oh, wow! I wish that was in other versions of Office, too!" only to realize that it was - I just couldn't find it until now.

        Examples?

        • by Z34107 (925136)

          I never knew about "PivotTables" in Excel until it was the first button under the "insert" tab. Turns out they're kinda the biggest reason to use Excel. (Granted, I don't use it much.

          Ditto for automatically captioning pictures with "Figure x" in Word - I never knew it was there until it popped up in a context menu one day as I was preparing a lab report.

          I also knew Word had some kind of revision control - "That's when you double-click the wrong button and all the text shows up red, right?" - but I did

          • Heyyyy, didja know they added pivot tables in the new Excel?

            Pivot tables aren't very new. They've been in spreadheets since the early '90s.

            I never knew about "PivotTables" in Excel until it was the first button under the "insert" tab. Turns out they're kinda the biggest reason to use Excel.

            They're called DataPilots or DataPivots in other spreadsheets (MS was able to trademark "PivotTables", which surprised a lot of people), and generally live under the "Data" menu. I'm a bit surprised it's under the "

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228)
        Here is MY problem with 07, which was also ONE of my problems with Vista for the two months I ran it (it was also a slow bloated hog, but I digress), anyway here is my problem: What the hell is so hard about having a "classic" mode? I mean, really, with all those programmers would have REALLY have been so hard to put an option to put in into classic mode, say 2000 or XP for Vista and 2000 or 2003 for Office? At least with XP before the Brico Packs and the hacked msstyles came out you could at least switch i
    • by a.ameri (665846)
      Office 2007's ribbon interface has a very steep learning curve. I completely understand how someone moving from Office 2003/OOo.org can initially get lost in it. It looks overwhelming, and so different to what we are used to.

      Give it some time, however and you'll soon be won over. After a week of using it, there was no way I could go back to previous versions of office. How many times have you looked at a menu item in Office 2003/OOo and not know exactly what it's supposed to do until you click on it? Well,
      • I don't really mind the ribbon - because I found how to remove it. And in general, the ribbon is _not_ the issue - it's the menu system that is. As I said in another post, I actually found Office 2008 for Mac _usable_! Though it fscked up the formulas due to (apparently a known) bug, otherwise I didn't have major problems with that. But Office 2007/win has a menu that left the three of us scratching our heads and laughing in disbelief.
  • Oh wow. What exactly is Microsoft Works?

    I can already feel the effects of this raw food diet I've just begun; my mind has already started to feel much clearer!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 19, 2008 @03:33PM (#23129162)
    You might remember me from informational presentations such as "Hi there, are you writing a letter?" and "Are you sure you want a comma there?" and I'm here to talk to you about a wonderful new kitchen product!
  • when you wipe the hard drive and reinstall the OS right after receiving a new computer.
  • Come on... "Microsoft Works" ? I wouldnt say so...
  • Nice! I would like to set OpenOffice.org or GNU/Linux ads there, who I need to take contact on Microsoft and how much I would need to pay about that, approximation?
  • Why? Open office is much better than works, word, word 2003, word 2007....
  • Desperation? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pecisk (688001) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @04:03PM (#23129344)
    Seemingly OpenOffice.org makes good inroads in OEMs, so Microsoft have to do something to compete. But ad based Microsoft product is rather stretching. I mean, no offense, but it is very hard and annoying to use Microsoft products _sometimes_. Ads means additional annoyance.

    Anyway, it is interesting step to watch and smells like testing waters before rolling out full ad-based Microsoft Office out.
    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      it is very hard and annoying to use Microsoft products _sometimes_. Ads means additional annoyance.
      "I see you're trying to write a letter, press this advert to continue so you lose your train of thought."
  • by melted (227442) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @04:55PM (#23129778) Homepage
    ... for a looooong time, but someone always screwed up the strangulation by reminding everyone just how much money it brings in. This looks like yet another strangulation attempt.
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    Need i say more?
  • Old news (Score:3, Informative)

    by jrothwell97 (968062) <`jonathan' `at' `notroswell.com'> on Saturday April 19, 2008 @05:26PM (#23129958) Homepage Journal
    My Packard Bell machine came with ad-supported Works bundled. I bought it on New Year's Eve, so the fact it's taken four months for this to appear on the front page of /. astounds me.
    And yes, it sucks far more than previous versions of Works.
  • Works can't compete against Open Office without ads. I can't believe anyone would be happy to have an ad based version.

    And why would a company want to risk alienating customers with placing ads in a computer they just bought?

    Having said that, the amount of BS pre-built computers have on them anyway and the fact consumers seem to enjoy getting half of the performance out of their machine they should get because of that leads me to believe customers won't care and would enjoy taking it up the back side
  • Hi, there! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zmollusc (763634) on Saturday April 19, 2008 @05:54PM (#23130162)
    "Hello, I am calling you to see if you wanted to advertise on our exciting new advertising medium targetted at skinflints who will use crap rather than fork out any money! Hello? Hello?"
  • Not mentioned anywhere is the fact that regular Works is eligible for MS office upgrade BUT adware works is NOT. Which could be a potentially significant cost difference if you need MS office. And yes, our Sony Viao came with the adware version of works, not the regular version.
    • by Raineer (1002750)

      And yes, our Sony Viao came with the adware version of works, not the regular version.

      Wow... I could certainly seeing wanting to save money yourself but to have a OEM company put in ad-supported software you can't even upgrade....wow

      I guess it is Sony :/

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

Working...