Microsoft refreshes beta of its Google Docs competitor

Microsoft has quietly released an update to its Office Live Workspace service, which the company first rolled out in beta form in December 2007.

Microsoft has quietly released an update to its Office Live Workspace service, which the company first rolled out in beta form in December 2007.

The just-released Office Live Workspace update, according to a posting on LiveSide.Net,includes a new activity pane for keeping track of what's happening in your wokspace; e-mail notifications so you know when those with whom you are sharing documents make an update; support for adding multiploe documents to workspaces; and a new interface to make it easier to invite new people to participate in a shared workspace.

A quick refresher on what Office Live Workspace is (and isn't). Office Live Workspace is Microsoft's alternative to Google Docs. It is not a Web-based version of Microsoft Office. It is meant, first and foremost, to be a complement to Microsoft Office. As Microsoft officials have said, Office Live Workspace service can be used from a PC, kiosk or other Web-access point without Office (or another desktop productivity suite) installed; all you technically need is an Internet Explorer or Firefox browser.

The beta of the service included a rudimentary online word processor called Web Notes; a “spreadsheet” that (at least so far) doesn’t do calculations called Web Lists; and the ability to access, view and comment on documents — both your own and those created by others who grant permission.

There's still no word on when Microsoft is expecting to expand the Office Live Workspace beta and/or finally remove the "beta" tag from the service.

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