Microsoft on Wednesday brushed off Apple's move to give away its software, claiming the iWork productivity suite from its rival was "lightweight" and "has never gotten much traction."
The reaction came a day after Apple unveiled its new line of iPads and announced much of its software and upgrades would be free, including iWork, which competes with Microsoft's top-selling Office suite.
"Since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it's hardly that surprising or significant a move," Microsoft corporate vice president Frank Shaw said on the company's corporate blog.
"So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don't see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up. I think they, like others, are waking up to the fact that we've built a better solution for people everywhere ... People who want a single, simple, affordable device with the power and flexibility to enhance and support their whole day."
Shaw also defended Microsoft's Surface, the tablet introduced a year ago which had little impact in the market and forced the Redmond, Washington, firm to take a huge writedown before revamping the device last month.
"Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world's most popular, most powerful productivity software for free and are priced below both the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively," he said.
"Microsoft understands how people work better than anyone else on the planet. We created the personal computing revolution by giving people around the world a low-cost, powerful, easy-to-use device that helped them accomplish an unbelievable array of tasks."
Shaw said Surface "is the most productive tablet you can buy today" because of its Office suite, "more precise" inputs like a keyboard and trackpad, and "the ability to use apps and documents side by side."
Apple, which unveiled several products and upgrades on Tuesday, said that iWork and iLife software suites -- for tasks from video editing to mixing music and making business presentations -- would be free with all its devices.
"These are really incredibly rich apps, and we have only just scratched the surface of what you can do with them," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said.
"We are turning the industry on its ear, because we want our customers to have our latest software and access to the greatest new features."