Microsoft to roll out online versions of Windows, Office

Tuesday, November 1st 2005, 2:22 pm
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced online versions of its Windows operating system and other popular software programs, hoping to defuse a growing threat from Google Inc. and other fast-moving challengers.

With a new Web site called ``Windows Live,'' Microsoft hopes to create a new platform that will unfasten some of its applications from a computer hard drive.

The change reflects Microsoft's recognition of the growing demand for applications and services that can be used from any place, at any time, as the lines between the home and office blur and portable computing devices become more powerful.

``It's a revolution in how we think about software,'' Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told reporters and industry analysts Tuesday. ``This is a big change for...every part of the ecosystem.''

In many cases, Windows Live _ available at _ will offer souped-up versions of services like online mapping and instant messaging that have long been available on Microsoft's, a heavily trafficked site that will continue to operate.

Gates emphasized that neither Windows Live nor another service called Windows Office will replace the operating system or other popular applications, such as word processing and spreadsheets, sold on disks that are installed on individual hard drives.

Microsoft also plans to continue to operate, a heavily trafficked Web site that inspired many of the features included in the Windows Live Web site.

Windows Live will be offered for free and try to make money from the rapidly expanding online advertising market that has been fueling the explosive growth of Google and Yahoo Inc., providing them with the financial and intellectual firepower to challenge the world's largest software maker.

Microsoft also plans to charge monthly fees for some of the Live Office features aimed primarily at small businesses _ a subscription model that has been a boon so far for online software pioneers like Inc., NetSuite Inc. and RightNow Technologies Inc.