Microsoft takes Office docs online

Microsoft takes Office docs online

First betas of Workspaces set to launch

Microsoft has begun the public beta program for Office Live Workspaces.

The service allows Office users to backup and share documents over the web. It plugs directly into Office, allowing users to access online documents from such applications as Word or Excel.

The new software is not currently available for public download. Microsoft said that it has begun to send the software only to US users who had pre-registered for the beta program, but it noted that all users are welcome to sign up to receive a copy.

Kirk Gregerson, director of consumer and small business product management for Office, hopes that the new service strikes a cord with users who are increasingly reliant on telecommuting and working with others in various locations.

"Office Live Workspace addresses growing demand among our customers for on-the-go access to projects and the ability to collaborate with others regardless of where they live or work," he declared.

In addition to file sharing, the service also allows users to synchronise calendars and contact lists on multiple PCs.

Each user is allowed 500Mb worth of storage, which Microsoft estimates will allow for upwards of 1000 documents to be stored. The service requires a Windows version of Office XP, 2003 or 2007 and a minimum of either IE6 or Firefox 2.0.

Microsoft said that it hopes to make the service available internationally in early 2008, with non-english versions hitting the streets by the end of next year.