In line with its software and services strategy, Microsoft on Monday announced new services such as Microsoft Office Live Workspace, a new Web-based feature of Microsoft Office that lets people access their documents online and share their work with others.
The new strategy departs from the company's current model of selling licenses for software that runs locally on computers, and takes it a little closer to competitor Google which offers online versions of its productivity applications suite Docs, which includes spreadsheet, word processor and presentation software.
Another competitor, Adobe Systems, announced Monday that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Virtual Ubiquity of Waltham, Massachusetts, and its online word processor Buzzword.
Adobe also added a new file-sharing service to its current online document services. Codenamed Share, the beta service will make it easier for people to share, publish and organize documents online, the company said. It was built with Adobe Flex software and runs in the Adobe Flash Player.
The announcements by Adobe and Microsoft signal the online office productivity market is heating up. IBM announced last month its Lotus Symphony productivity software, which boasted 100,000 downloads in its first week of availability. The software is based on open-source office productivity software from OpenOffice.org, and is available as software running on the desktop only.
Microsofts Office Live Workspace is currently in a beta phase and open to any user to register.
Available free, Office Live Workspace is among the first in a new wave of online services from the company. Users can save more than 1,000 Office documents to one place online and access them through the Web, and share the documents with others in a password-protected, invitation-only online workspace.
If users want to edit their documents, they will have to open them using an installed copy of Microsoft Office. Other people who don't have a desktop version of Office can still view and comment on other people's documents through a browser.
Microsoft also announced Monday that it will sell its Exchange, SharePoint and Communications server software as online services over the Internet to enterprises with 5,000 or more users. The company also opened Exchange Labs, a research and development program for testing next-generation messaging and unified communications capabilities in high-scale environments. The Exchange Labs program will initially include select universities and school districts.