Microsoft Office takes to the web

Microsoft has fired its latest salvo at Google, announcing a free web-based version of its Office software.

Office 2010 will include lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote when it ships next year.

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The new web offering will compete with Google’s free online Docs suite launched three years ago.

Last week Google took aim at Windows with news of a free operating system while in June Microsoft introduced a new search engine called Bing.

“We believe the web has a lot to offer in terms of connectivity,” Microsoft’s group product manager for Office told the BBC.

“We have over a half a billion customers world-wide and what we hear from them is that they really want the power of the web without compromise. They want collaboration without compromise.

“And what they tell us today is that going to the web often means they sacrifice fidelity, functionality and the quality of the content they care about. We knew that if and when we were ever going to bring applications into a web environment, we needed to do the hard work first because we hold such a high bar,” said Mr Bryant.

Microsoft said that 400 million customers who are Windows Live consumers will have access to the Office web applications at no cost.

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