It was bound to happen. Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Office franchise is moving to the Web. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA), and even Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) have cloud computing solutions for Office tasks like word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Microsoft couldn't afford to be left behind.

If there is any surprise in Microsoft's announcement to offer a scaled-back version of Office 2010 in cyberspace, it's that the world's largest software company will offer it up for free.

Now, there probably won't be a free lunch. It will probably work best for users who purchased commercial copies, stored on their hard drives. However, if Google can offer an ad-supported model to make Google Apps fly, let's hope that Microsoft doesn't hold back on too many of the more popular features.

If it's going to enter the cloud computing game, it needs to go in with a winner's mind-set.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Facebook announced that it has passed the 250 million mark in terms of registered users. It crossed the 200-million-member milestone just three months ago. Don't mind the thumping sound you're hearing. It's just Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) kicking itself for blowing its potential buyout of Facebook a couple of years ago.
  • eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) is choosing bunt singles over home-run swings. It is replacing its annual eBay Live exposition with a series of smaller eBay: On Location events around the country next year. Some would argue that the annual event proved dangerous, giving a forum for disgruntled power sellers to congregate and map out an escape strategy. Growth has also stalled at eBay in recent quarters, something that has yet to happen to faster growing overseas exchanges like South Korea's Gmarket (which it recently acquired) and Latin America's MercadoLibre (Nasdaq: MELI). So if the lower-key road show doesn't work, it can always place an ad on rival Craigslist, asking for someone to return its lost mojo.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Google and MercadoLibre are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. eBay is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. eBay and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.