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Microsoft launches cloud-based Office 365 beta

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 Photo Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has launched the beta version of Office 365, a much anticipated cloud-based productivity suite that mixes the tools of Microsoft Office with the power of social networking.

Unlike the Microsoft Office we've all used, Office 365 is web-based and stores documents in a cloud. Users from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection can collaborate seamlessly on the same project. Co-workers can simultaneously edit Excel spreadsheets, Word and PowerPoint presentations in real time, and see exactly who is editing and viewing the documents.

Office 365 also provides users with email, shared calendars, a virus scanner, instant messaging, and a tool that makes sending large files easy. Users can share their desktops remotely for presentations and launch online meetings with audio and video

Microsoft says Office 365 will work with PCs, Macs, iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry phones, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phones. The company also said it will be launching the Office 365 Marketplace, with an additional 100 productivity apps and 400 professional services.

Businesses interested in Office 365 will need to pony up $6 per user per month. Not too bad, considering a license for Microsoft Office can run into the hundreds per individual.

But the drawback is obvious: No Internet connection, no access to your stuff. So if you're traveling and you don't have a smartphone and/or laptop with a mobile data plan or if the Internet connection dies, you won't be able to access or work on the shared document.

Check out Microsoft's official Office 365 site if you want to test the beta version yourself.

Photo: Microsoft Office 365.

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