SEATTLE — Few golden geese in technology have survived as long as Office has for Microsoft.
The suite of applications that includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint, first released in 1990, generated nearly a third of Microsoft’s revenue during its last fiscal year — about $26 billion of $87 billion in total. By some estimates, the software accounted for an even higher portion of the company’s gross profits.
But in a sign of the seismic changes underway in the tech industry, Microsoft, the world’s largest software company,said on Thursday that it would give away a comprehensive mobile edition of Office. The free software for iPads, iPhones and Android tablets will do most of the most essential things people normally do with the computer versions of the product.