Microsoft today laid out the next phase in its strategy for online services, offering a roadmap for new offerings from the company’s Business Division that synthesize client, server and services software.
These hybrid offerings will combine elements of client-based programs with software that runs large servers and new services delivered over the Web. Microsoft plans to deliver these services over the coming months under two key service offerings: Microsoft Live and Microsoft Online. These offerings will span from hosted services, by Microsoft or by a Microsoft partner, to on-premise offerings, delivering software the business customers want, however they want.
Oh boy another "Live" name from Microsoft to clear the air. But this actually makes some sense, as it pulls together the more large and medium business offerings with these new small office products, as well as products such as Small Business Accounting. To recap, Microsoft Online currently offers Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live, as well as:
- Microsoft Exchange Online
- Microsoft Office SharePoint Online
- Microsoft Office Communications Online
- Microsoft Office Live Meeting
- Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services
- Microsoft BizTalk Services
So what is Office Live Workspace? The beta, which is accepting applications now at www.officelive.com will begin soon, and expects to be a free service, although perhaps with some advertising.
Access documents when away from your desk
- Store documents and access them from any computer
- Stay productive while at home, an Internet café, library, airport, etc.
Share documents with others
- Gather feedback on a document, report, or presentation
- Share with people who can’t access your corporate network
Prepare for a meeting
- Share the agenda, minutes, and action items
- Post meeting handouts or presentations
Organize a study group
- Work together on assignments and share notes from class
- Keep a shared schedule and task list for your group
Keep track of important school information
- Manage schedules from sports to registration deadlines
- Track your GPA and progress toward degree requirements
Coordinate with club or team members
- Post and manage schedules (for sports, clubs, etc.)
- Share lists of who's bringing what (no more e-mail back and forth)
Organize an event
- Use for a party, camping trip, even a wedding
- Share to-do lists, timelines, budgets, directions
Store your information and keep track of favorite things
- Store and access important passwords, frequent flyer numbers, etc.
- Create Top 10 lists of favorite films, restaurants, books, etc.—and keep them private or share with friends and family
Prepare for a trip
- Plan for the trip with travel budget and packing list templates
- Share your itinerary, contact info, and important documents with colleagues or family
While there seems to be some overlap between this product and the more home user/consumer oriented offerings such as SkyDrive and Windows Live Events, we don't know enough about either of these offerings to make comparisons or know where they overlap.
From the FAQ, some more interesting tidbits:
- It’s free. No purchase or credit card information is required. Microsoft Office Live Workspace may eventually include advertising, but we’re still testing different designs.
- Anyone who uses Microsoft Office can benefit from this service.
- Your files have the benefit of virus protection from Microsoft Forefront Client Security technology, and they can only be accessed with a Windows Live ID and password. You control who can view, comment on, and edit your documents. You manage permissions and decide whether someone has access to a single document or an entire workspace.
- For a better experience with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, we will make an Office Live Add-in available for the Microsoft Office suite. If you want to do real-time screen sharing, you can download the Microsoft SharedView beta here.
- You can upload many file types, from Microsoft Office documents to pictures and PDFs. In fact, you can store over 1,000 Office documents in your workspace, based on the average file size and use of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by students, work, and home users. For your protection, we don’t allow the uploading of files that could cause security issues such as .exe files.
- Currently, it’s available in English only and optimized for use in the United States. We plan to include additional languages in the future.