Microsoft says yes to Albany, the cheap online Microsoft Office suite

Microsoft has confirmed on Friday that it is considering releasing a cut down version of Microsoft Office suite and a slew of other web-centric services, called Albany, at a low price to satisfy the demand for such a product.

The offer which is referred within Microsoft as a Value Box, would come with a subscription basis and will apparently include Office Home and Student 2007; Office Live Workspaces; Windows Live Mail, Messenger and Photos client software; and Windows Live OneCare.

Google Docs (especially when equipped with Google Gears), IBM Lotus Symphony and the OpenOffice.org Business Suite are the obvious targets of Microsoft's newly found urge to produce low priced software.

Although no price are available, one can expect it to be at least £72 per annum and come with a number of restrictions (e.g. not intended for business uses).

Microsoft already has a surprisingly good dumbed down Office Suite called Microsoft Works, which is bundled for free with Dell Desktop PCs, but users and reviewers have criticised it for being too restricted.

Albany, while signalling the end of Microsoft Works, would mean even greater application integration between its offline component (dumbed down Office Suite) and online services.

But PC World also posits that Microsoft may also look into another option; that of giving Microsoft Works for free by bringing in advertising; after all, it seems as if those two options could co-exist simply to make life more difficult for the other players on the market.