Microsoft offers $100K to testers of Office Live Workspace

Vendor uses sweepstakes to try to entice early users to try new online document service

To try to spur interest in its upcoming Office Live Workspace service, Microsoft plans to announce this week that it is running a sweepstakes in the US with a US$100,000 grand prize for US beta testers of the Web-based document storage and collaboration offering.

Microsoft also said that it has added several new features to Office Live Workspace, a free service that is aimed at individual users and small businesses. The software vendor describes the service as an "online extension" of Office that has been integrated with the XP, 2003 and 2007 versions of the market-leading desktop applications suite.

As part of the sweepstakes, Microsoft plans to give out a total of 30,000 prizes between now and May 11. In addition to the grand prize, the booty that will be distributed includes 300 Xbox 360s, 500 Samsung BlackJack II mobile phones, 200 30GB Zune media players, 400 Expedia travel vouchers worth $300 each, and several thousand other Microsoft software and hardware products. Most of the prizes are more prosaic, though: about 23,000 will consist of soft drink coupons, while another 1,000 will be US$10 gift cards to an unidentified "specialty coffee retailer."

Anyone can now sign up to try Office Live Workspace, which had only been available only to a limited number of early users since December. But only US residents who are at least 18 years old are eligible for the prizes. Testers can sign up for both the service and the sweepstakes on Microsoft's Web site.

Office Live Workspace lets users view documents but not create or edit them. In order to do the latter tasks, people still need to use Office or other types of software, such as products that can create PDF files or JPEGs. By contrast, online suites such as Google Docs, Zoho Office and ThinkFree Office offer document creation, editing and sharing capabilities for free or for a relatively low cost.

But those services lack full compatibility and integration with Office, which has about 500 million users worldwide, according to Microsoft.

Guy Gilbert, a senior product manager at Microsoft, said the new features added to the service since then include an activity panel that lets users see at a glance what is happening within workspaces, including changes made to shared documents offline. Users also now can get updates about changes via e-mail and eventually will be able to be notified as part of their RSS feeds, which would enable to them to track changes in their reader software.

In addition, beta-testers can now create permanent links to shared workspaces, making it easier to invite potential collaborators to view documents, according to Gilbert. However, he added that for the time being, the links will be lengthy and can't be written in plain English.

Asked how he felt Office Live Workspace compares against Google's also-still-in-beta Google Docs service, Gilbert said, "Of course, we rate ourselves very well. But we're well aware that customers are asking us to do more. So the service will continue to progress."

Microsoft will take Office Live Workspace out of beta when the "quality is ready," Gilbert said, declining to be more specific. Both free and paid versions of the service will be available at that time, he said, noting that the latter may offer a larger storage capacity or more advanced collaboration features.

The Office Live Workspace beta also is being offered as part of Microsoft's free Live@edu program for colleges, universities and K-12 school systems. The company claims that more than 600 schools in 40 countries have signed up to use the hosted Live@edu services since the program was initially launched in March 2005.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?