Microsoft is to offer consumers free access to a stripped down version of its Office 2010 suite.
The ad-supported version of its productivity software was revealed during its worldwide partners conference in New Orleans.
The move is likely to be seen as part of the company's attempt to head off Google's Doc online service. However, despite the emphasis on its free Office suite, Microsoft was keen to stress that this is only one small facet of the overall release.
Other changes to the package include cutting the number of SKUs from eight to five and the creation of licences for enterprise customer wishing to host Office 2010 from one of the vendor's data centres. Resellers will also be able to offer traditional machine-based licences.