Microsoft to soon sell full range of Web software

By Ritsuko Ando

NEW YORK, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp will anon barrage a abounding ambit of online versions of its software products, including the Office suite, and expects the anemic abridgement to beforehand advance of the beginning Web-based software market, a chief controlling said on Monday.

Stephen Elop, admiral of Microsoft's business division, is arch the company's access into the "software as a service" market, which offers programs that are hosted online instead of downloaded to computer harder drives.

By application the Web to host software like Microsoft Office, as able-bodied as Exchange e-mail and SharePoint collaborative software, Microsoft barter do not charge to absorb as abundant money on accessories and aliment of computer servers.

"What we anticipate is in 5 years, 50 percent of the use of Exchange and Sharepoint could be serviced from the cloud," Elop told Reuters in an interview.

"Between now and then, a year or two or whatever, if it's traveling to be boxy bread-and-butter times, that agency we apprehend absolutely a lot of movement in that direction, a lot of humans demography advantage of that," he added. "I anticipate the abridgement will advice it."

Microsoft's attack into online software casework comes amidst antagonism from Google Inc, whose Google Apps accommodate chargeless Web casework including calendar, collaboration, email and messaging software.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has said it affairs to advancement its Office business software to cover online versions of the accepted Word and Excel programs. Elop said the aggregation would anon advertise a avant-garde ambit of services, including chargeless versions accurate by advertising.

"We apprehend absolutely that the abounding ambit of Office utilities, from the a lot of avant-garde to simpler failing versions, will be accessible with a ambit of options: ad-funded, subscriptions-based, acceptable licensing fees, and so forth. So you should apprehend to see that abounding array," he said.

Elop beneath to specify if the casework would be launched, but said "in 2009 you're traveling to see a lot of beforehand in this area."

Microsoft will acceptable accomplish a accumulation from the new action aural a year afterwards the launch, he said.

He aswell said that even the basic, chargeless versions will trump Google Apps in capabilities, and that Microsoft will ensure that users can move Office abstracts in and out of the Web browser ambiance after any garbling to the text.

Microsoft's advantage adjoin Google is its affluent set of software services, he said, abacus that this is aswell a account as it competes with arrangement accessories maker Cisco Systems Inc, which is aswell accretion into the Web-based software business.

Elop said contempo affairs with barter showed able absorption in advance to online software applications, admitting worries that a all-around recession would bedew technology spending.

"We may accept underestimated the admeasurement to which barter will move in this direction," he said. (Additional advertisement by Tiffany Wu, alteration by Gerald E. McCormick)

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