Microsoft has indicated it will be offering a free, ad-supported version of its Works software. Works, which includes a word processor and spreadsheet application, is often given away with new PCs.

Many will see the move as a further step in Microsoft's moves to counteract 'the Google effect'. Google already has free ad-supported online software, a market that Microsoft has previously said it will look into.

Works will remain as an installed app - in contrast to Google's Docs and Spreadsheets apps that are used through an internet browser. "When a user connects to the internet while using Works, that cache of ads will refresh," product manager Melissa Stern told Reuters who indicated that the test period is to assess the viability of ad-supported software from Microsoft.

The ad-supported version of Works, SE9, will be tested with a limited run of as-yet unspecified computer manufacturers.