Redmond has announced that it plans to allow OEMs to pre-install the complete version of Office 2010 on new computers -- except it will be tweaked to run at a limited capacity. Instead of shipping PCs with the dreaded Microsoft Works or a 60-day trial of Office 2007, new systems will have an ad-supported version of Office 2010.
Dubbed Office Starter 2010, the new offering will serve as a handicapped edition of Office 2010, providing users with the ability to view, edit, and create documents via Word or Excel. Office Starter 2010 will be accompanied by advertisements, and despite the restricted functionality, Microsoft says it is "designed for casual Office users," who would be ok with the software's limitations. The company based its decision on the number of users who are displeased with Works as well as Office trials, and thus are not purchasing the company's complete productivity suite.
Being that the complete version of Office 2010 will already be installed on these systems, Microsoft plans to sell Product Key Cards via OEMs and major retail outlets. The cards will contain license numbers for the many consumer SKUs of Office, which will remove the constraints of Office Starter. Customers will also be able to download and buy Office 2010 online via Microsoft's new "Click-To-Run" technology. If a good old-fashioned disc is more your taste though, you will still be able to pick up Office 2010 on DVD, which will contain both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.