Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Microsoft Opens "Office Live Workspace" to the Public

I first wrote about Office Live Workspace when pre-registration opened in early October. At the time it was a very limited beta open to select few registered participants, but as of late Monday it was opened up to the general public.

Go to the Office Live Workspace site to sign up.

Still in beta, Microsoft Office Live Workspace is "sort of" Microsoft's answer to Google Docs. I say "sort of" because although it allows you upload and share documents, you can't edit unless you have Microsoft Office installed on the PC you are using to access the Office Live Workspace site.

To use the site, you need IE6 or later, or Firefox 2.0 (Safari support is coming). The site also gives you the opportunity to install a plug-in for your Office 2003 or 2007 software that allows direct integration with the site. An Office 2008 (Mac) plug-in is also being developed; I'd guess you'd see Safari support about the same time.

Storage space has been upped as well, from 250MB to 500MB. Certainly generous enough if you're storing only Office documents.

In the press release, Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division said:
"Today’s announcement moves us further down the path of bringing a software plus services experience to people at home, work and school. 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."
Microsoft also spoke of their Live@edu initiative. The Live@edu program is much more generous with students and alumni gaining 5 GB inboxes, the same amount of online storage, calendars, blogging tools, and mobile access.

Obviously Office Live Workspace will only appeal to those who already have Microsoft Office; you're not going to see a bunch of Google Docs users defecting.

However, Microsoft is attempting to tempt Google Docs users with a sweepstakes, running through May 11, 2008. Grand prize is $100,000, but there will be more than 30,000 daily and weekly prizes including Xbox 360 Elite Video Game Systems, Samsung Blackjack II Smartphone devices, 30GB Zune players, Expedia hotel and package coupons and Microsoft Office Professional 2007 (oooooooh!).

You get an entry when you register for Office Live Workspace, and 1 bonus entry each when uploading your first document and sharing your first document or workspace. More information about the sweepstakes can be found here.

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