It was a long time coming, but Microsoft has finally announced that they will be bringing lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote online. Like existing services from Google and Zoho, users will be able to use a browser to create, edit, and collaborate on Office documents. The online version is also designed to integrate with the next desktop version of Office, so there are no plans to ditch the software component just yet. However, Microsoft is definitely focusing heavily on the Windows Live experience—as we saw recently with their decision to eliminate bundled email and video editing programs from Windows 7.
It appears that Microsoft will be offering the new online Office suite via the Office Live Workspace in both ad supported and subscription tiers. What the difference will be between those tiers has not been revealed, but Microsoft plans on releasing a private technical preview of the Office web applications later this year. Beta information is expected to be released to Office Live Workspace subscribers sometime in the near future. [Microsoft and Microsoft and Office Live]