Microsoft announced Office Live Workspace in October and today started rolling out the public beta. The play here is for Microsoft to bring some sort of equivalent of the easy document sharing provided by Web-based office software competitors to the users of their cash cow desktop Microsoft Office software. They have done this in essence by adding new file saving options to Office applications and connecting them to a document checkout service running on the Internet.
That certainly provides the sharing function, but the early press reviews are generally less than ecstatic because Office Live Workspace doesn’t provide any of Web editing features of the Web-based competition. Past indications were that it would be a cold day in Hell when that happened, but Microsoft seems to be changing its tune as Erick Schonfeld reports:
Granted, this is version 1.0 of a beta. It will get better. One of the Microsoft execs who visited made it clear to me that the company’s goal is “bridge the gap between the online and offline world so that people don’t have to care where a document lives.” He also suggested online editing capabilities would be coming “maybe next year.”
As long as the Web editing functionality is tied to a registered copy of Microsoft Office, the Microsoft bean counters won’t care, but how long can they keep it tied up?