Microsoft Tests SaaS Waters With Subscription Office


Formerly code-named Albany, Equipt is aimed at home users and students, but the Office Live Workspace component could make it attractive to small business users as well. But unlike competing online document suites such as Google Docs, Office Live Workspace users need Microsoft Office applications in order create the documents they store and share online.

Microsoft is selling Equipt exclusively through partner Circuit City for an annual subscription of $69.99 per year, which gives users the ability to install the software on up to three PCs and includes free version upgrades and virus definition updates.

In an ironic coincidence, Circuit City shares fell nearly 10 percent Wednesday after Blockbuster announced it had dropped its $1 billion-plus bid to acquire the struggling retailer.

Equipt is a consumer-focused example of Microsoft's Software Plus Services strategy, Microsoft's version of SaaS that employs a blend of on-premise software and cloud services to offer what Microsoft claims is a richer computing experience.

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Next week at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, Microsoft is expected to offer channel partners financial details on its business-focused Online services suite.