Beta version of Microsoft Office Live Workspace is now live

Microsoft Corporation has officially opened its online office document-sharing site. Office Live Workspace is a public open beta site, available to anyone with a Windows Live ID. The focus of the site is the ability for users to share and save documents online.

Users must have Microsoft Office applications - Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook - installed on their computers to take advantage of the capabilities of the online site.

According to a report in PC Magazine, you start by setting up an account using a Windows Live ID, and can then create multiple Workspaces for any groups you want to collaborate with. You can then share documents with others through e-mail invitations. You assign rights to your invitees allowing them to either edit the documents or view only. An Office Live toolbar installed in Office applications gives participants the choice to save documents to or open them from any shared Workspace. One user has the right to share documents with up to 100 other people.

Microsoft envisions the site as a gathering place for work, school, and personal projects, where multiple users can share the material and work collaboratively online. The site is also useful for users who work remotely or in multiple locations and want to make files accessible to themselves online.

The space limit for online storage is 500 MB, which Microsoft equates to as many as 1,000 documents or more, including picture files. The service works in Internet Explorer 6.0 or later on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista; Firefox 2.0 on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista; or Firefox 2.0 on Mac OS X 10.2.x and later.

There is no cost to use Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta, however the site may eventually include advertising, and fee-based services might be added in the future, according to descriptive information on the Microsoft Office Live Workspace Web site.

Initially, Microsoft Office Live Workspace is available as a beta service to a limited number of people while Microsoft finalizes the product. Potential users can sign up for pre-registration by using an existing Windows Live ID or creating a new one. Microsoft will send out an invitation as soon as your workspace is ready. More people are being added to the project each week.

You can sign up for free or view a video that describes the service by going to workspace.officelive.com.

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