I’ve been offline for a while because of a computer crash (mostly fixed) and perhaps that is skewing how I’m reacting to the news that Microsoft is going to be offering its core Office free online next year. It’s clear Google, which is giving away everything from WiFi to satellite photographs of Planet Earth, is the elephant in the room.
UPDATE: The comment below that this is not really “free” Office may be correct. According to DigitalMediaAsia: The initial Office Live offerings are targeted at small businesses worldwide that have fewer than ten employees. These services can be used independently but also integrate with Microsoft Office programmes, including Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office Live Meeting and Microsoft Office Small Business Edition.
We may have to wait for the beta (2006) to find out.