Microsoft has said it will begin charging $1.50 (about £0.80) for users to download a copy of Office 2007 Beta 2.0.

"In just the past two months since its launch, more than three million people have downloaded the beta," the company said in a statement sent via email. "Given how dramatically Beta 2.0 downloads have exceeded our goals, we have made the business decision to implement a cost-recovery measure for downloading."

Microsoft will begin charging users starting on Wednesday, it said. The company released Beta 2.0 of Office 2007 in May.

Though users will be charged for downloads of the actual Office 2007 Beta 2.0 software, Microsoft will continue to offer an online test drive of Office 2007 it launched in late June that users can access through a web browser.

Users can visit Microsoft's website to access the online test version of Office 2007.

Microsoft plans to release Office 2007 to business customers before the end of the year, and to consumers in early 2007. Both of those releases have been delayed from their originally scheduled ship dates.

Office 2007 Beta 2.0 can be found on the cover disc of this month's issue of PC Advisor, available from all good newsagents.