Microsoft launches Web-based Office suite

Associated Press
In this photo provided by Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer launches Microsoft Office 365, Tuesday, June 28, 2011 in New York. Office 365 brings together Microsoft Office with SharePoint, Exchange and Lync Online for a monthly subscription. (AP Photo/Microsoft, Jason DeCrow)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft Corp. has officially launched its Web-based email and Office services, part of its ongoing effort to keep Google at bay when it comes to business software.

"Office 365" has been available in a test version since last year. It combines Web-based versions of Word, Excel and other Office applications. It also includes the Exchange e-mail system, SharePoint online collaboration technology and Microsoft's instant messaging, Internet phone and video conferencing system.

The latest software package comes as companies are increasingly shifting to storing data and applications on remote servers rather than on users' desktop computers. In 2006, Google Inc. launched its own suite of office software that's based in the "cloud," called Google Apps.

Microsoft said Tuesday that it plans to charge $2 to $27 per month per user for Office 365 depending on what's included. Google Apps costs $4 or $5 per month.

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