Microsoft on Tuesday opened up a beta version of Office Live Workspace to the public, while adding new features to this key component of its 'software + services' strategy. The company now expects to ship the final version of Office Live Workspace later in 2008. Previously, only a private beta of the online service was available.
"By combining the rich client experience of Microsoft Office with flexible, intuitive service offerings, we're providing seamless computing experiences for our 500 million Office users worldwide," says Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division. This distinction is important: Unlike online office suites such as Google Docs, Microsoft's Office Live services interact with desktop-based versions of Microsoft Office. This is what the company means by 'software + services.'
So what is Office Live Workspace? Microsoft describes it as a Web-based extension to Microsoft Office, one that provides online document storage, sharing, and collaboration. The public beta released this week adds new functionality, including a new document activity panel, email notifications, direct links to workspaces and workspace items, multiple-file uploading, and improved sharing features. Though currently available worldwide only in English, Microsoft says that it will expand the Office Live Workspaces beta to other languages soon. The service will be made available for free.
For more information about Office Live Workspace, please visit the Microsoft Web site.