Sources say Microsoft is developing a set of entry-level online productivity applications called "Albany" aimed at countering Google Docs.
Microsoft is working on a not-so-secret project, code-named
Albany, that will amount to an
online, on-demand office productivity suite to compete with the free online
Google Docs applications, sources have confirmed to eWEEK.
While the details are sketchy and Microsoft officials
have declined to comment on the subject, analysts and media reports suggest
that Project Albany is likely a combination of existing Microsoft
products-Office Live Workspace, Windows Live OneCare and Microsoft
Works-packaged into an online service.
"What I understand is [Albany] is really aimed at Works
more than at Office-at occasional users of word processing and spreadsheets-the
exact audience that would consider an online productivity suite," said
Directions on Microsoft analyst Rob Helm.
Office Live Workspace is billed as an online extension of
Office. It lets users create an online work space where documents can be
saved and accessed via a Web browser. The work space can be shared with other
people for collaboration purposes. Work space owners can control who can view,
comment and edit documents. Users can also synchronize contact, task and event
lists with Outlook.
Microsoft is previewing Windows Search 4.0. Click here to read more.
Windows Live OneCare brings in a sort of PC infrastructure
as a service, with features including anti-virus and anti-spyware protection,
online ID protection, proactive configuration fixes and recommendations, Wi-Fi
security, multi-PC management tools, printer sharing tools, and backup and
Microsoft Works is a productivity suite, similar to Office,
aimed at consumers and small businesses. It has word processing and spreadsheet
capabilities and is mostly sold at retail stores or preinstalled on new
PCs. Currently Works is sold as an on-premises application. But because it
competes with Google Docs' sweet spot-casual use by consumers-it's more
likely to be a foundation piece of Albany.
Google Docs is a suite of on-demand applications letting
users create documents, spreadsheets and presentations, which represents
low-level online competition to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
User documents are stored online and can accessed from any browser. Users can invite
others to view and make changes to their documents.
What may also be a core part of the Albany
project is SharePoint Server 2007, a collaboration and content management
server that also includes search.
Helm said Microsoft has already done pieces of the online
work with this latest version, including the addition of an online spreadsheet
capability and a Windows Live writer positioned as a blogging tool
provides some word processing capabilities.
"Microsoft has the raw materials to make a Works-like
online suite," Helm said. "So I assume that's what is going to happen