In the beginning, there was word processing.
Then, simply, Word.
Spreadsheets became Excel. Presentation software, if it was ever known by such a name, was simply PowerPoint. Long before Google's preeminence in search, Microsoft dominated business and personal software with a suite known as Office.
The company launches its latest version, Office 2010, on Wednesday in New York — and the stakes couldn't be higher.
The lucrative franchise is threatened by a changing market spouting a four-letter word: free. The biggest threat comes from Google, specifically Google Docs, Web applications accessible from any computer.
Because of Google, Microsoft has been forced to make a free ad-supported version called Office Web Apps.