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MS doesn't set world alight with Office Live Workspace

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Microsoft claimed yesterday that one million subscribers have now signed up to the beta release of Office Live Workspace.

The company’s web-based suite of apps has been publicly available for six months. They allow customers to create or edit documents online, but this being Redmond, there is a caveat: a licensed copy of MS Office needs to be running on subscribers’ machines first.

So what does that one million figure really represent? According to Microsoft, it’s worthy of some internal back-slapping about how it’s pulled in “significant interest” from schools, businesses and home users from around the globe, all of whom, MS reckons, are loyal to the brand.

In the real world, however, the Office Live Workspace beta that's expected to conclude at the end of the year, simply provides an online bolt-on to Microsoft's suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps in what many would describe as a classic MS lockdown move.

For now, Microsoft will argue that its halfway-house approach is a cautious defence against Google Apps which, as BillG himself has previously noted, is still next to useless for anything mildly important to business, where MS Office holds a bulky market share.

And the timing of the firm’s announcement that it has scored what it sees as a tasty “customer sign-up milestone” could just be Microsoft’s attempt to deflect some attention from shhhh, don’t say it, CHROME, which will be integrated with Google's Gears.®

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