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Google to give away software to Microsoft Office defectors

SAN FRANCISCO - Google (GOOG) is escalating an attack on Microsoft's (MSFT) lucrative Office software in an attempt to hit its longtime rival where it will hurt the most.

The assault is targeting companies and government agencies paying for Microsoft's suite of word processing, email, calendar, spreadsheet and other Office programs. If they dump Microsoft, Google will give them free use of a package of its competing software that normally costs $5 or $10 per user each month.

The price for the "Google for Work" software will be waived for the duration of the defecting customers' existing contracts with Microsoft or any other supplier. The offer is open for six months in the U.S. and will eventually be extended to other countries.

Google is limiting the free usage to 3,000 people per defecting Microsoft customer.

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