Project Albany Moves Into Google Turf

Microsoft revealed "Albany," a consumer-oriented hosted service that provides Excel, PowerPoint and Word applications, plus security and collaboration tools.

Microsoft today revealed that its code-named "Albany" project is a consumer-oriented hosted service that provides Excel, PowerPoint and Word applications, as well as security and collaboration tools.

The Albany service has some similarities to the free Google Apps cluster of online applications, although Albany won't be free. Albany currently is available only to a private group of beta testers, according to an announcement issued by Microsoft.

Talk of Albany's existence surfaced last month after beta testers began receiving invitations for the trial.

Albany, when released, will be a subscription-based service that includes access to the Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 productivity suites, along with a collaboration tool that works with Office called OneNote. In addition, Albany subscribers will get Windows Live OneCare, which provides security updates and PC performance tuning. Other Windows Live applications planned for the Albany bundle include, e-mail, messaging and photo gallery space.

Users will be able to save their files to online workspaces and collaborate with others via a connector on the Office toolbar. A single Albany subscription can be supported across three PCs, according to Bryson Gordon, Microsoft's Albany group product manager, in a released statement.

Gordon described Albany as part of Microsoft's "software plus service" approach, in which some of Microsoft's products will be delivered online, rather than installed at the customer's premise.

"Albany is also another prime example of how we are delivering on our software plus services strategy of offering customers a combination of the rich performance and capabilities that you only get from software running on a client PC with the convenience and connectivity of the Web," he stated in a press release.

Pricing and availability of the Albany service will be announced sometime this year, he added.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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