It should probably come as no surprise that Microsoft's largesse, as far as offering users a free taste of the beta of Office 2007, was shortlived.

This article appears in the November 06 issue of PC Advisor, onsale now in all good newsagents.

The multimillion dollar company is clearly feeling the pinch and if you haven't already downloaded the free trial – we included it on our August cover disc – then you've missed your chance, as now you'll have to pay.

Admittedly it's charging only $1.50 (79p) per download but, given that it's benefited from all the free advice and feedback of existing beta testers, it seems a bit rich to start asking punters to cough up.

Microsoft claims that with more than three million copies of the beta downloaded since it became available in May, it has exceeded its target by more than 500 percent and needs to recoup some of the bandwidth costs by charging for the beta.

It hasn't ruled out offering future free beta copies of software but, if the opportunity arises again, the best advice is to get in quick. Existing beta users can still get free updates to the software, but it is due to be shut down in February 2007, with only limited functionality remaining. This is in line with estimates that the full version of Office 2007 is due to launch at the end of this year or early 2007.

This is already a revised date, so don't be surprised if it's delayed again.