Microsoft today announced the public availability of Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta, the new Web-based extension of Microsoft Office that lets people access their documents online and share their work with others. Also Microsoft launching a $100,000 sweepstakes for U.S.-based Office Live Workspace users

Office Live Workspace

Office Live Workspace is now available worldwide in English. People can sign up for free and will be granted immediate access to the service. Microsoft is also unveiling a number of new Office Live Workspace features, such as an activity panel, notifications, direct links and multifile upload.

Office Live Workspace lets people organize documents and projects online and work on them from almost any computer. People can save more than 1,000 Microsoft Office documents to one place online, and access and share them via the Web. They can view and comment on documents in the browser as well as create simple Web lists and Web notes, and share documents in real time through integration with Microsoft SharedView.

Microsoft has also added several new features to Office Live Workspace, based in part on feedback from early beta participants:

Activity panel. A new activity panel shows all the activity in a workspace at a glance.
Notifications. People can now receive e-mail notifications about changes made to their workspaces or documents.
Direct links. People can now bookmark their workspace or a workspace item via a unique URL in a browser window.
Multi-file upload. People can now upload several files simultaneously by simply dragging and dropping from their desktop.
Improved sharing. New sharing functionality includes an easier user interface and auto-completion of e-mail addresses.

Office Live Workspace also represents a critical collaboration component of the Microsoft Live@edu initiative. In addition to Office Live Workspace, the Live@edu program offers students and alumni 5 GB e-mail inboxes, 5 GB of password-protected online storage space, shared calendars, blogging tools, and access to these services on a mobile phone, all at no costs to the schools or students. The collaboration opportunity afforded by Office Live Workspace is important to allowing students and faculty to work together online. Today, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside is rolling out Office Live Workspace campuswide to its 16,000 active, continuing education and incoming students, plus alumni and more than 700 faculty members and administrators, as part of a broader Live@edu initiative. Since Microsoft Live@edu launched in March 2005, more than 600 schools in 40 countries have chosen the Live@edu suite. More information about Microsoft Live@edu can be found at .

Today Microsoft is also launching a $100,000 sweepstakes for U.S.-based Office Live Workspace users. The sweepstakes will award more than 30,000 prizes, including $100,000 that the winner could use to fund a college education, a new business or favorite charity — the choice is up to the individual. The sweepstakes will run through May 11, 2008, and the winner will be selected around May 15, 2008. Microsoft will award a grand prize of $100,000 and an assortment of more than 30,000 daily and weekly prizes to include Xbox 360 Elite Video Game Systems, Samsung Blackjack II Smartphone devices, 30GB Zune players, Expedia hotel and package coupons and Microsoft Office Professional 2007. Participants may enter for a chance to win by registering for Office Live Workspace. Participants can also earn up to two bonus entries to increase their chances of winning when they upload their first document to their Office Live Workspace account and the first time they share a document or workspace with others.