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Microsoft To Launch Free Web-based Office Suite To Counter Google Apps

Microsoft has fired another salvo in its battle against Google; the software giant will offer a free web-based version of office which is set to take on its nemesis, Google Apps.

In what appears to be a tit-for-tat answer to Google announcement of Chrome OS which the search behemoth is positioning as an "anti-operating" system - as opposed to a platfom like Windows 7.

We first heard of Microsoft's plans to release a free online Google Apps challenger back in March 2008 when it was called Albany and it seems that it would have brought together Windows Live Onecare (which no longer exists), Office Live Workspace as well as Office Home and Student Edition.

The current Office Web version is set to offer Word, Powerpoint, Excel and OneNote messagepad and will be supported by advertising. Microsoft has apparently made sure that its web suite will not compete directly with its desktop counterparts which is one of its most profitable business.

However, Office Web will have native web-related collaborative tools such as the ability to embed tags in documents or the possibility to post content straight to blog, something that the desktop versions will not have without addons.

Office Web applications will be available through Windows Live Portal which has more than 400 million customers and Microsoft has already announced that it will be cutting the number of office editions from five to eight.

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Our Comments

Microsoft has taken some decisive steps and whether these will be enough to keep Google at bay remains to be seen. Microsoft Office web will be available on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers and via Microsoft Online services. Prospective customers will need to buy a subscription as part of a hosted offering.

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Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.