Microsoft announced that users of its Office Live Workspace accounts will be “upgraded” to Windows Live SkyDrive in the coming months for file storage and sharing as the company rolls out Web-based versions of its core Office applications.
Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Office Live Workspaceshas been in beta for roughly two-and-a-half years. It provides Office users with online storage and sharing of users’ documents — although without the ability to edit or create them.
Live SkyDrive, which was released in February 2008, provides consumers with Web-based storage, that enables them to access their files via a browser.
Both services are free.
With so much duplication between the two Live services, it’s not too surprising that Microsoft would consolidate them into one. If anything, users will be better off. Office Live Workspace has a storage limit of 5GB, while Live SkyDrive provides 25GB of storage.
“When we upgrade Office Live Workspace user accounts to SkyDrive, you will get many of the same capabilities you get today in Office Live Workspace — with some exciting new features such as the Office Web Apps,” Sam Sengupta, principal group manager for Office Live Workspace, said in a postto the Office Live Workspace blog Thursday.
The Office Web Apps include Web-based versions of the core Office applications — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote — all stripped down for delivery through browsers, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Safari.
In January 2009, the company began to tip its hand when it merged the Web sites for Office Live services, including Office Live Workspace, onto the same site as the general Windows Live consumer services, such as Live Photo Gallery and Live Movie Makeras well as Live Messenger and Live Hotmail.
All that’s necessary to access the Live services and the new Office Web Apps is a Windows Live ID.
With Wednesday’s business launch of Office 2010, which includes the Web-based Office Web Apps, and with the free consumer and small business versions of the Web Apps debuting on June 15, users will get the ability to use SkyDrive as online “in the cloud” data storage and file sharing.
Meanwhile, current Office Live Workspace users don’t need to be concerned. The changeover won’t happen right away, and when it does, other than opting in, the users have little to do since the transition is automated. Even those who do nothing, not even opt in, eventually will be moved automatically to SkyDrive.
“We’ll notify you in the coming months when you can upgrade your Office Live Workspace account to SkyDrive with the Office Web Apps. When you do, all of your workspaces, documents, and related sharing permissions will be available directly within SkyDrive,” Sengupta added.
Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.