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Issue Date: March 2008

Microsoft unveils free online Office service

27 March 2008

Microsoft has taken the wraps off Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta, the new web-based extension of Microsoft Office that lets people access their documents online and share their work with others.
Office Live Workspace lets people organise documents and projects online, and work on them from any computer. People can save more than 1000 Microsoft Office documents to one place online, and access and share them via the Web. People can view and comment on documents in the browser, as well as create simple web lists and web notes, and share documents in realtime through integration with Microsoft SharedView.
Office Live Workspace is now available worldwide in English. People can sign up for free at and will be granted immediate access to the service. Microsoft is also unveiling a number of new Office Live Workspace features, such as an activity panel, notifications, direct links and multifile upload.
Office Live Workspace will have a major impact on how people access and share their documents. Keeping control of document versions is far easier, and the integration with Microsoft Office just lets users open and save files directly from and to their workspace.
"Today's announcement moves us further down the path of bringing a 'software plus services' experience to people at home, work and school," said Albie Bester, information worker group executive at Microsoft SA.
"By combining the rich client experience of Microsoft Office with flexible, intuitive service offerings, we are providing seamless computing experiences for our 500 million Office users worldwide."
Since the unveiling of the private beta last October, hundreds of thousands of people have signed up for the beta, and thousands have been invited off the pre-registration list to provide feedback on the service. The Office team has also been working with a number of colleges and universities, where it is being used by participating students, faculty members and administrators to enhance sharing and collaboration within the classroom and among student team and extracurricular projects.
"Microsoft's Office Live Workspace combines all of the amazing ease of use that you expect from Microsoft Office with the convenience and security of web-based storage. The best of both worlds allows you to collaborate, edit and share in ways that previously never existed. This is a great execution of a wonderful concept," said Bester.
Microsoft has also added several new features to Office Live Workspace, based in part on feedback from early beta participants:
* Activity panel. A new activity panel shows all the activity in a workspace at a glance.
* Notifications. People can now receive e-mail notifications about changes made to their workspaces or documents.
* Direct links. Users can now bookmark their workspace or a workspace item via a unique URL in a browser window.
* Multifile upload. Enables users to upload several files by simply dragging and dropping from their desktop.
* Improved sharing. New sharing functionality includes an easier user interface and auto-completion of e-mail addresses.
Microsoft Office Live Workspace is being offered free of charge.
Microsoft plans to offer the beta program later this year in various languages for international markets. Microsoft expects to release the final public version of Office Live Workspace later in the year.

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