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Microsoft's 'Albany' Project May Take Aim at Google Docs

Microsoft appears to be working on a secret project called Albany, and while no one knows for sure exactly what it is yet, clues indicate that the company is looking to develop a stronger competitor to Google's free, online-hosted Google Docs service.

According to reports, word of Albany first spread last week when beta testers received e-mails from Microsoft asking them to participate in the private beta of the product. All About Microsoft's Mary Jo Foley reported yesterday that while beta testers and others first speculated that Albany would be a Software-as-Service version of Microsoft Works, now they've told her it's more likely an update of two of Microsoft's Live products -- Office Live OneCare and Windows Live Workspaces -- integrated with Office Home and Student Edition.

"Microsoft is referring to the bundle of three, unnamed products/services as a 'ValueBox,' suggesting that Albany ultimately will be sold in a box at retail," Foley wrote. She also noted that according to a screenshot from one of the testers, Microsoft referred to the package as "ValueBox," indicating that the term may, at the very least, be under consideration for the package's final name.

While Microsoft isn't publicly commenting on Albany, its e-mail to beta testers indicates that the project is indeed consumer-focused, Foley reported.

If the speculation is right, it would appear that Microsoft wants a stronger challenger to the free Google Docs, although it's unclear whether Redmond would charge for the new suite. The current retail price for Office Home and Student Edition is $149.95.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy. She also serves as executive editor of the group's media Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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