Microsoft has launched a private beta test of a subscription version of its Office and security software.
Dubbed Albany the package includes Office Live and OneCare - Microsoft's bundle of security and anti-virus products. It is aimed at consumers rather than businesses - Microsoft is already trialling similar offerings for businesses.
Beta testers will get access to Office Home and Student 2007, Messenger, Live Mail, Photo Gallery, as well as security bundle OneCare. You also get Office Live Workspace, an online storage and collaboration space.
The subscription is good for three PCs and will provide automatic updates to subscribers. The benefit for consumers is they will no longer have to go through the hassle of upgrading, while Microsoft obviously gets a regular revenue stream not dependent on hardware sales.
Information on pricing and availability of the actual service will come later in the year. ®