The Microsoft empire strikes back

28 Mar 2008

A new web-based Office alternative, codenamed Albany, is rumoured to be in development by software giant Microsoft, according to some beta testers, but as of yet there is no information on how this will shape up to Google’s productivity suite, Google Docs.

Although Microsoft, in the past, was rumoured to be developing a free, ad-supported version of its desktop word-processing and spreadsheet applications, this never materialised. However, an online, budget-friendly and lightweight version of Office aimed at home users may be on the cards.

The forthcoming Albany is allegedly a mixture of three of Microsoft’s products: Windows Live OneCare, Office Live Workspace and Office Home and Student Edition, according to ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley.

This is a somewhat parallel development to Google’s online productivity services, which have recently been given improvements through the inclusion of Gadgets for its Spreadsheets application.

Gadgets-in-Docs allows the user to embed graphs, maps and links in the spreadsheet and publish to iGoogle, which may be the beginnings of more integration from Google across its productivity tools, allowing users to plug in information from Google Docs straight into their social networking site, blog etc.

On the other hand, it seems Microsoft is aiming to spread the existing online collaborative elements of its Office package by targeting it towards home and student end users and affixing an attractive price, rather than bringing it all online.

By Marie Boran