Microsoft has made its first steps into the mobile, Internet-accessible world of "cloud" computing by setting up its Office software on the web.
Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint collaboration tools have been made into an online format so that customers can use them on a variety of devices from wherever they can get an Internet connection. Shy and retiring Chief Executive Steve Ballmer presented the overhauled and updated set of offerings dubbed Office 365 at an event in New York City yesterday. He claimed that online versions and built-in conferencing tools could save users money.
Office 365 has been in beta testing since last autumn and will open a war between Google which has been flogging a similar product. Microsoft said it will charge from $2 per user per month for basic email services to $27 per user per month for advanced offerings, with a standard, small business package priced at $6 per user per month. Google charges a flat fee of $50 per user per year for its Web-based Google Apps product, which offers email, calendars, word processing and more online.