Microsoft Corporation has announced the public availability of Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta, the new Web-based extension of Microsoft Office that lets people access their documents online and share their work with others. Office Live Workspace was among the first entries in the new wave of online services in Microsoft's software plus services vision previewed last fall.
Office Live Workspace is now available worldwide in English. People can sign up for free on the Office Live Workspace Web site and will be granted immediate access to the service. Microsoft is also unveiling a number of new Office Live Workspace features, such as an activity panel, notifications, direct links, and multifile upload.
"Today's announcement moves us further down the path of bringing a software plus services experience to people at home, work and school," said Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division. "By combining the rich client experience of Microsoft Office with flexible, intuitive service offerings, we're providing seamless computing experiences for our 500 million Office users worldwide."
Access anywhere, share and extend the Microsoft Office Experience
Office Live Workspace lets people organize documents and projects online and work on them from almost any computer. People can save more than 1,000 Microsoft Office documents to one place online, and access and share them via the Web. They can view and comment on documents in the browser as well as create simple Web lists and Web notes, and share documents in real time through integration with Microsoft SharedView.
Microsoft has also added several new features to Office Live Workspace, based in part on feedback from early beta participants:
Activity panel. A new activity panel shows all the activity in a workspace at a glance.
Notifications. People can now receive e-mail notifications about changes made to their workspaces or documents.
Direct links. People can now bookmark their workspace or a workspace item via a unique URL in a browser window.
Multi-file upload. People can now upload several files simultaneously by simply dragging and dropping from their desktop.
Improved sharing. New sharing functionality includes an easier user interface and auto-completion of e-mail addresses.
Hundreds of thousands registered for Office Live Workspace
Since the unveiling of the private beta last October, hundreds of thousands of people have signed up for the beta, and thousands from the pre-registration have been invited to provide feedback on the service. The Office team has also been working with a number of U.S. colleges and universities, including Florida Community College at Jacksonville, University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and Vanderbilt University, where it is being used by participating students, faculty members and administrators to enhance sharing and collaboration within the classroom and among student team and extracurricular projects.
"Both in the classroom and in our IT operations, we have tried various forms of collaboration," said Matthew Jett Hall, assistant vice chancellor, information technology services and associate chief information architect, enterprise infrastructure at Vanderbilt University. "Microsoft Office Live Workspace combines all the amazing ease of use that you expect from Microsoft Office with the convenience and security of Web-based storage. The best of both worlds allows you to collaborate, edit and share in ways that previously never existed. This is a great execution of a wonderful concept."
Jason Liu, a senior biomedical engineering student at Duke University, uses Office Live Workspace. "Office Live Workspace is a lifesaver. It has not only helped me get organized but also had tremendous impact on how I access and share my documents," Liu said. "With this service, keeping control of document versions as I work on my engineering research project from different computers is so much easier. I no longer have to worry about carrying a thumb drive or e-mailing files to myself, and the integration with Microsoft Office just lets me open and save files directly from and to my workspace, so there was hardly a learning curve. Access to my documents from anywhere and the ability to easily share information using Office Live Workspace -- whether in the lab, at my office on campus or at my apartment -- is truly improving my computing experience."
Office Live Workspace also represents a critical collaboration component of the Microsoft Live@edu initiative. In addition to Office Live Workspace, the Live@edu program offers students and alumni 5 GB e-mail inboxes, 5 GB of password-protected online storage space, shared calendars, blogging tools, and access to these services on a mobile phone, all at no costs to the schools or students. The collaboration opportunity afforded by Office Live Workspace is important to allowing students and faculty to work together online. Today, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside is rolling out Office Live Workspace campus-wide to its 16,000 active, continuing education and incoming students, plus alumni and more than 700 faculty members and administrators, as part of a broader Live@edu initiative. Since Microsoft Live@edu launched in March 2005, more than 600 schools in 40 countries have chosen the Live@edu suite. More information about Microsoft Live@edu can be found at http://get.live.com/edu.
Office Live Workspace Sweepstakes
Today Microsoft is also launching a $100,000 sweepstakes for U.S.-based Office Live Workspace users. The sweepstakes will award more than 30,000 prizes, including $100,000 that the winner could use to fund a college education, a new business or favorite charity -- the choice is up to the individual. The sweepstakes will run through May 11, 2008, and the winner will be selected around May 15, 2008. Microsoft will award a grand prize of $100,000 and an assortment of more than 30,000 daily and weekly prizes to include Xbox 360 Elite Video Game Systems, Samsung Blackjack II Smartphone devices, 30GB Zune players, Expedia hotel and package coupons and Microsoft Office Professional 2007. Participants may enter for a chance to win by registering for Office Live Workspace. Participants can also earn up to two bonus entries to increase their chances of winning when they upload their first document to their Office Live Workspace account and the first time they share a document or workspace with others. More information about the sweepstakes can be found at the Sweepstakes Web site.
Beta pricing and availability
Microsoft Office Live Workspace is being offered free of charge. Microsoft plans to offer the beta program later this year in various languages for international markets. The company expects to release the final public version of Office Live Workspace later in the year.