RealTime IT News

Office Live Workspace Hits Million-User Mark

Just six months after Microsoft threw open worldwide beta testing of Office Live Workspace, the online storage and collaboration service has rung up more than one million users, the company said.

Using the free service, which the company (NASDAQ: MSFT) launched in October as a private beta, Microsoft Office users can upload and store their documents and share them with others. Users can share individual documents or workspaces with up to 100 people. Now, the company is congratulating itself for Office Live Workspace's popularity.

"The pace at which people are signing up for the beta tells us that they are looking for ways to resolve the complexities of their work, school and home projects through a range of choices," Kirk Gregersen, Microsoft Office's director of consumer and small business product management, said in a statement. "It takes companies years to attract a strong customer base such as this."

There's just one little blemish, though -- by Microsoft's own count, there are 500 million Microsoft Office users worldwide. This means that the figure of one million users suddenly doesn't loom so large, especially considering that the service is free to Office users.

Office Live Workspace provides users 500 megabytes (MB) of storage. Users can upload documents of up to 25MB each. They can also synchronize contact, task and event lists with Microsoft Outlook through the service.

During the service's open beta period, Microsoft released versions in eleven languages besides the product's original English, while adding new features including support for Firefox.

A Firefox add-in found its way into the service in Office Live Update 1.2, released Aug. 12. Office Live Workspace works with Internet Explorer 6 and 7, and with Firefox on Windows or Mac OS X 10.2.x and later.

Not another type of SaaS

The success of Office Live Workspace is important for Microsoft, since it's among the first of the "software-plus-services" offerings the company plans to deliver, and a key part of its future product strategy.

Another is Windows Live Services, which began rolling out in November and is likewise available for free download.

Such services reside on the Internet and are accessible by broadband. Unlike Software as a Service (SaaS) , which consists of a completely online service offering, software-plus-services -- a term the company coined -- consists of Web extensions to Microsoft's existing software.

Microsoft began pushing the concept more than two years ago.

Since then, software-plus-services have taken a bigger role in Microsoft's plans. Chief software architect Ray Ozzie told financial analysts in July 2007 that services would become a critical aspect of all the company's offerings.