Microsoft tests free Works software with embedded advertising

Microsoft WorksSoftware giant Microsoft pledged yesterday a test of its low-end Works suite, to arrive preloaded on some new PCs, with embedded advertising paying the bills, per a Reuters report.

The idea of large-scale software-as-a-service has been batted around for years. Recently, mainstream giant Google and upstart Zoho have led the way with free on-line suites compatible with file formats of Microsoft's cash cow, Office.

So, with Works languishing as full-featured Open Office open -source freeware erodes its top end, and aforementioned online competitors already reaching into its space from the Web, Microsoft decided to offer the $40 low-end suite for free, pre-loaded on some new machines, paid for by pre-loaded cached advertisements shown to captive users. Connecting to the Web forces the ad cache to refresh in Works SE 9.  The new version is said to be due before the Christmas selling season begins, from yet-unnamed PC manufacturers.

This gives Microsoft something to do with the otherwise moribund Works code base.  There's also the bonus of a reinforcement for its move into Web advertising in the form of a unique product to sell to advertisers, which no other major Web ad firm has. Is this a viable business model for advertising supported software?

Will you recommend Microsoft Works to users who come to you, wanting to add suite functionality to their home machines, in lieu of Open Office or free online software services?