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Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet is pleading with readers to do their homework before jumping on the Office 2010 Starter bandwagon, and with good reason. Microsoft's Office 2010 productivity software goes on sale tomorrow and while it's true that the ad-supported Starter edition will be free, you might be getting less than you bargained for.
It's hard to argue with free, but it's worth noting that Microsoft gutted the Starter edition to only include basic document viewing and editing of Word and Excel. The goal is not to give Office away, but to entice users to upgrade, which some point out sounds a lot like trialware.
"Incorrect messaging of Office Starter 2010 may discourage your customers from purchasing a full Office suite and could also lead to customer dissatisfaction and confusion," Microsoft wrote in a note to its OEM partners. "Market research shows that many people confused Office Starter 2010 with a full Office suite, and were then dissatisfied because they believed they had received a full Office suite."
In other words, be weary of OEM system builders advertising Office Starter 2010 -- a practice Microsoft is discouraging -- and know exactly what it is you're getting (or not getting).