Web ads in Office 14? Not very likely

A Microsoft spokesperson today confirmed the text of a statement attributed to Business Division President Stephen Elop this morning, which was interpreted by bloggers including Silicon Valley Insider as meaning that the company's forthcoming Office 14 suite will add advertising as a source of alternate revenue.

"There will be ad-based revenue streams," reads the quote from Elop. "There's an opportunity to draw those pirate customers into the revenue stream. We want to draw them into the Windows family and maybe there's an upsell opportunity later."

The implication was that Elop appeared to be telling fellow attendees at a Morgan Stanley technology conference that people who currently use pirated versions of Office may be inclined instead to use legitimate versions, so long as they don't mind a little stream of advertising on the side. However, a Microsoft spokesperson indicated to Betanews today that Elop may actually have been referring to Office Web applications, which were announced last August.

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A demo of the Web-based version of Office 14 from PDC 2008 last October.

Office Web apps are due to accompany the Office 14 desktop applications when they are finally delivered sometime next year. Conceivably, advertising could accompany those applications as well, and whether or not the ads appear for Office Web app users may depend on whether they are licensed Office 14 owners.

"We offer services through Office Live today that take advantage of both ad-funded and subscription offerings," the spokesperson told us. "As we announced last year at PDC, we will deliver Office Web applications, which will be available with the next version of Office, to consumers through this service."

So an alternate scenario does exist where advertising doesn't directly appear embedded in Office 14 applications. This alternate scenario could very well be the likelier of the two, since it makes sense to embed Web-based advertising in a product that is designed to be used through the Web. Such use may also serve as a piracy deterrant, for people who would otherwise hack the registry to make their Office licenses appear valid to Windows.

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