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Microsoft is planning to offer free online versions of its spreadsheet and word processing software, in response to the emergence of web-based programmes from rival firms. 

Microsoft offers apps for free

Microsoft has already dipped its toe in the water of the online services pond with Windows Live, which conglomerates numerous Internet functions such as news feeds, blogs and email. However this latest move is seen as a more direct counter attack to the likes of Google and its Writely web-based word processor.

The advertising funded programmes will most likely be based on Microsoft Works software, though many features will be missing from the full versions. Reuters reported that the computing giant was “considering” new distribution and payment models, but as yet there is no release date on the software.

Though Microsoft has enjoyed an effective monopoly on the business software market for many years, a growing number of firms are now offering free online alternatives as well as Google.

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