Ad-Supported Office Starter 2010 to Replace MS Works

Redmond announces the end of Works, neglected stepchild of the Office family that Microsoft kept in the basement for 20 years

Microsoft is discontinuing its venerable Works program, an entry-level productivity suite for home users, and replacing it with Office Starter 2010, which will contain advertising.

The announcement means the end of Works, the neglected stepchild of the Office family that Microsoft kept in the basement for some 20 years. Often preinstalled on home PCs, Works was a decent productivity tool for basic chores, like family budgeting and homework assignments. It had its quirks, however, such as forcing you to save a document in the Works format, even if the file had previously been saved in another format.

According to a video on the Microsoft Office blog, Redmond decided two years ago to develop Office Starter, which explains why Works, with its Office 2003-era interface, had been ignored for so long.

The new Office Starter 2010 will come preinstalled on many new Windows PCs. Works will go away, as will those annoying "trial editions" of Office. And unlike the trial versions, Office Starter won't have an expiration date. You'll be able to use it as long as you like.

But Wait, There's Less

As you'd expect, Starter is a crippled version of Office 2010. It contains just two "reduced-functionality" apps -- Word Starter and Excel Starter -- that are designed for Works-style home chores, such as writing recipes and newsletters.

What else is missing? Office Starter 2010 doesn't including Outlook, OneNote, or PowerPoint. That's bad news for professionals hoping to, say, complete a presentation at home over the weekend.

Microsoft says upgrading to the full Office will be a snap. Example: If Starter 2010 is preinstalled on your computer, you'll be able to buy a Product Key Card (at retail outlets), enter the key number in your PC, and unlock the full Office program.

Starter 2010, unlike Works, has an up-to-date interface, including the Office ribbon that isn't universally loved by all who use it.

What About Those Ads?

Ugh, advertisements have come to Office. At the bottom of Starter 2010's Task Pane, a right column with links to a Getting Started guide, clip art, and templates, you'll find an ad window. It's unclear what type of ads Microsoft will funnel there, but hopefully it'll avoid flashing text, dancing homeowners, and similarly annoying fare. The message here to users is clear: To lose the ads, cough up more dough. (To be fair, an upgrade buys more features and apps too.)

Clearly, Microsoft is seeking new ways to monetize Office. The ad window in Starter 2010 is a strong indication that Redmond will try a similar strategy with Office Web Apps, its upcoming cloud-based productivity suite built to compete with online competitors like Google Docs, which is becoming popular among business users.

One thing's for sure: Few among us will miss Microsoft Works, which never got the care and feeding it needed to become a top-notch home productivity app.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftMS worksOffice Starter

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?