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Microsoft offers free Office storage to web plebs

Live Workspaces public beta is go!

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Microsoft has opened its beta of a suite of new online Office features to all comers.

Office Live Workspaces has been in private testing since October. It allows desktop Office owners to share and collaborate on documents. It's the future.

Well, basically its some free online storage (about 1,000 average-sized Office files), a fancypants web interface, and buttons in your desktop applications to access it.

The halfway-house approach is a cautious defence against Google Apps which, as BillG himself noted this week, are still next to useless for anything mildly important to business. Google is, nevertheless, pressing ahead with plans to ramp-up its challenge to Microsoft by disemminating Google Gears, caching software that allows users to edit Apps documents offline.

Redmond says hundreds of thousands of Office users have already signed up for Live Workspaces. There's no word on how many are actually using it. Have a look here if you fancy it.

On Monday, Microsoft opened up its hosted versions of Exchange Server and Sharepoint to the masses. ®

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