BW cover story on Microsoft – excerpt:
The front line of the new Microsoft is its highly profitable business division. The group includes the Office suite of applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the Outlook program, which lets users read and compose e-mails), as well as its SharePoint collaboration software and its Exchange e-mail server program. Microsoft in November began offering Exchange and SharePoint as a Web service for a monthly fee. For customers tired of maintaining these unwieldy programs on their own servers, the change is welcome: They usually end up paying less to subscribe to the software than they spent buying the program and paying for the staff and hardware to run it.
What's more, Microsoft has dramatically upgraded its Office applications. Microsoft Office 2010, scheduled to be released by the middle of next year, represents a radical departure from the past. For the first time, Microsoft will offer a free version of Office with limited functionality to customers who don't want to pay up for the whole shebang. Among other things, the free version, which will be supported in part by online advertising, will let users access any Word or Excel document remotely, via cell phone or a Web site.