Microsoft would seem to be mulling over plans to offer free, ad-supported versions of some of its desktop products, including Office. No specific plans have been made at this time, but it does seem clear that the software giant is looking into whether it makes sense to release ad-supported versions of products such as Works, Money, or even Windows itself.

"As Web advertising grows and consumer revenues shrink, we need to consider creating ad-supported versions of our software," two Microsoft researchers and an MSN employee wrote in a paper presented to company executives earlier this year. The document was prepared for one of Microsoft's twice-yearly Thinkweek exercises, in which chairman Bill Gates and other top executives gather to consider potential new avenues for the company to follow.