Microsoft has today announced the immediate public availability of the beta version of Microsoft Office Live Workspace which allows users to access their Office documents from anywhere via a web-based interface, and share them with others the same way. This is part of the Microsoft strategy to provide a 'software plus services' experience and according to Stephen Elop, President of the Microsoft Business Division will provide a seamless computing environment for 500 million Office users by "combining the rich client experience of Microsoft Office with flexible, intuitive service offerings."
Essentially, Office Live Workspace enables the organization of 1000 documents and projects to a single online archive which can be worked upon from pretty much any computer. Users can also view and comment on documents in their web browser as well as create simple Web lists and Web notes, and not forgetting the ability to share documents in real time through integration with Microsoft SharedView.
In response to feedback from earlier beta testing, Microsoft has also announced several new features to extend the functionality of the service, including:
- A new activity panel shows all the activity in a workspace at a glance.
- People can now receive e-mail notifications about changes made to their workspaces or documents.
- People can now bookmark their workspace or a workspace item via a unique URL in a browser window.
- People can now upload several files simultaneously by simply dragging and dropping from their desktop.
- New sharing functionality includes an easier user interface and auto-completion of e-mail addresses.
Tim Kimber, who heads up the Office Live UK division explains "Customers have asked for an easy way to save their documents from Office to the web, so that they can get to their information if they're away from their PC. People also get frustrated with the confusing free-for-all that can result when multiple versions of documents circulate in e-mail attachments that then have to be manually pulled together by the original author. We're hopeful that Office Live Workspace will help solve these challenges by providing a place online to keep a single version of a document that everyone can work on and feel secure in the knowledge that they're working on the latest draft."