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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Most Widely Traded 48 Hour Clock: Microsoft and Google's Free Software

24/7 Wall St. has begun coverage of the 36 most widely traded stocks, eighteen each from the NYSE and the NASDAQ. Most of these stocks trade over 50 million shares a week. This new feature will highlight each of the 36 stocks at least every 48 hours giving investors fresh infomation and perspective on the companies whose shares are most likely to move the broader markets.

Stocks: (MSFT)(GOOG)

A good deal has been written about the recent BusinessWeek article on Google's failure to produce any commercial products beyond its search engine and text ads. Very little has been said about an article in the same issue that says that Google's free software with it spreadsheet, calender and other features will be a stong competitor for Microsoft Office.

The theory is almost certainly wrong. Microsoft's Office and OS have had a number of potential competitors, perhaps the most important being Linux operating and desktop software that has been available for little or no cost.

Web-based software that mimics some of the features of Office is unlikely to be a success. As Linux software engineers have found, producing free software that will work commerically is difficult. Not to mention the fact that you can't pay the rent with the fruits of your labor.

Microsoft will undoubted turn very sharply toward web delivery of all the functions of Office, both in pieces (Word) and as a total package.

Microsoft has a number of problems, but a real challenger to Office is not among them.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies he writes about.

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