Microsoft on Oct. 28 introduced Office Web applications, saying it finally would open its Office suite to access via a web browser in the next release of the software, reports the New York Times–something Google has been doing for years. The company made the announcement at its annual Professional Developers Conference, where it repeatedly has said all its software eventually would be offered as a service. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote will be delivered with Office 14 and Office Live, a consumer service, in the same way the company’s popular Outlook Web Access makes eMail available via a browser. The traditional desktop version will remain as the flagship version of Office, however. The Office Web applications will let users create, edit, and collaborate on Office documents. The web applications are not feature-for-feature renditions of the desktop versions, but they have significant capabilities available via the browser, according to experts. For business users, Microsoft will offer a subscription service and volume-licensing options for those that want to host the Office Web applications on their own networks. Office, one of the company’s traditional cash cows, has been attacked over the years by various knock-offs, including recent open-source productivity applications. Unable to resist the onslaught of online applications, including Google Apps, Microsoft now will have its most popular set of applications available via a PC, phone, or web browser…

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