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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Over 30,000 Prizes Awarded To Office Live Workspace Beta

You would think that Microsoft’s initiative on Monday to open up the beta testing to the wide public, absolutely free of charge, is enough to raise interest in its latest creation: Microsoft Live Workspace, an online service combining the Office experience with flexible, intuitive service offerings.

They didn’t seem to think so, and doubled the announcement with a $100,000 sweepstakes for the U.S.-based users, awarding more than 30,000 prizes each day until May 11, 2008. All you have to do is register to the Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta testing, and you’re in for the prizes competition, which includes sweet rewards, such as Xbox 360 Elite Video Game Systems, Samsung Blackjack Ii Smartphone devices, 30GB Zune players, Expedia hotel and package coupons, and, of course, Microsoft Office Professional 2007.

The sweepstakes officially started on March 4, 2008 and will consist of 10 Prize Periods, at the end of which there will be one Overall Prize Period Drawing and seven Daily Drawings. Microsoft also offers bonus entry opportunities for uploading a document to Office Live workspace or by sharing a document on Office Live Workspace. The $100,000 cash grand prize will be given away on May 15, 2008.

Since the October opening of the beta testing – for a limited number of users only – Microsoft Office Live Workspace also started a collaboration with various universities and colleges across the U.S., meant not only to increase feedback on the service, but also to enhance IT collaboration and sharing experiences among students or within a classroom.

“Microsoft Office Live Workspace combines all the amazing ease of use that you expect from Microsoft Office with the convenience and security of Web-based storage,” said Matthew Jett Hall, assistant vice-chancellor, information technology services and associate chief information architect, enterprise infrastructure at Vanderbilt University in a statement. “The best of both worlds allows you to collaborate, edit and share in ways that previously never existed. This is a great execution of a wonderful concept.”

The news service addresses to the 500 million Office users worldwide and is directed towards responding to customer demands, which tend to include online activities in everyday life. Microsoft Office Live Workspace will save over 1,000 Office documents and grant accessibility via the Internet.

More about

Microsoft said Tuesday it has made available for worldwide public testing a hosted version of its widely used Microsoft Office productivity software.
As part of the trial, users can access an English-language beta version of Microsoft Office Live Workspace, as the offering is called, from the company's Web site at no charge. Microsoft for the past several months has conducted a private beta program for Office Live that's drawn more than 100,000 participants, according to the company.

Office Live Workspace lets users store and access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office applications on the Web through any computer with an Internet connection -- even if the PC isn't running Office on its hard drive.

That means a mobile worker could, say, create a Word document at his or her office, upload it to the service, and then access it later from virtually any PC.

Without Office Live, that same worker would have to carry the file around on a flash device or e-mail it to himself. Still, the document could only be downloaded and opened on a computer running a Word-compatible application.

Office Live could also eliminate the insecure practice -- often used by executives on the go -- of downloading files to a public computer. Office Live users can store more than 1,000 documents on the service and also grant access authorization to their files to business colleagues and other third parties.

Office Live Workspace is part of the software-plus-services strategy that Microsoft unveiled last year. The campaign is meant to bolster the company's presence in the booming Web services market while protecting its multibillion-dollar packaged software franchise.

The effort has seen Microsoft roll out a number of Web services under its Windows Live brand, including an online storage site called SkyDrive and a social networking site called Spaces.

Microsoft's assault on the Web is in no small part a response to advances by archrival Google. In recent months, the search engine company has introduced a host of new online services. Of those, the biggest threat to Microsoft is Google Apps. The offering features free or low-cost versions of Office-style productivity applications that are hosted on the Web.

The advantage of Google's approach is that, unlike Office Live, users don't need to purchase any pricey boxed software for the service to work. The downside is that users for the most part can't get to the applications without an Internet connection.

Microsoft said it plans to roll out Office Live beta programs in languages other than English in the coming weeks.

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