The Financial Times reports that Microsoft is believed to be about to offer software for rent over the internet as early as the first quarter of next year. This is expected to be a major growth area next year and Microsoft, the dominant player in the Office suite market is keen not to be left behind.
Microsoft's rival, Sun Microsystems, plans to offer a competing range of software products for free on the Internet later next year.
The format would be to allow companies to use popular software programs over the internet and pay by the hour for the time they spend working. However, most commentators expect that despite these developments traditional purchase is likely to remain the dominant means of acquiring most software for the foreseeable future.