U.K. supermarket chain Tesco Stores will launch six PC software applications under its own brand, including a word processor and antivirus software, later this month. The software packages will sell for under 20 pounds (US$37), and will include free online support via e-mail.British "white label" software distributor Formjet will supply and support the software through its subsidiary, Formjet Innovations. Formjet holds the U.K. rights to distribute Panda Software\u2019s antivirus tools and Ability Plus Software\u2019s word processor and office applications, among others. It founded the Innovations subsidiary to sell versions of the software under other companies\u2019 brands.Formjet has software partners in 16 countries, and is looking for other sales outlets, company spokesman Graham O\u2019Reilly said on Monday. "At the moment we\u2019re concentrating on the U.K., and we are talking to other retail partners," he said.For Tesco, Formjet has branded the software\u2019s packaging, code and online help with the supermarket chain\u2019s name, O\u2019Reilly said.In a market where technical support is increasingly outsourced to offshore destinations with lower labor costs, Formjet has set up its support team south of London, in Crawley."It\u2019s become quite a feature, these days, to say it\u2019s U.K.-based support," O\u2019Reilly said.The company keeps support costs down by handling everything by e-mail. Customers "get an automated reply with the top\u00a010 answers based on the subject line of their e-mail," O\u2019Reilly said. Typically, that\u2019s enough to deal with around half the questions the company receives; staff deal with the other half, he said.The antivirus and security software packs will include one year\u2019s e-mail support and software updates, he said. After that, customers can renew their subscription online or buy another pack at the supermarket. Formjet will impose no time limit on e-mail support for the other applications, he said.Even at such a low price, it\u2019s doubtful that Tesco will gain much market share, one analyst said, pointing to Microsoft\u2019s continued dominance of the office software market, despite the availability of competing applications for much lower prices, or even for free."Many low-cost or free packages exist in each category, yet products that are many times the price of the cheapest option continue to dominate," David Mitchell of Ovum wrote in an e-mail.If it is to win customers, Tesco must make sure its applications can read and write files compatible with Microsoft\u2019s Office suite, he said.The software won\u2019t look out of place on Tesco\u2019s shelves. The supermarket already sells mobile phones, and is an ISP, Internet telephony operator and mobile virtual network operator.-Peter Sayer, IDG News Service (Paris Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.