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Microsoft’s Latest Jab at Google Docs: Albany?

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Over the past couple of years, Microsoft’s online office strategy has grown increasingly muddled, while Google has emerged has the clear leader in the web office space with their Google Docs product. Microsoft has been reluctant to cannibalize any of its cash cow desktop office software business by introducing a web-based version of its popular Office suite. Instead, Redmond has been trying to complement its desktop offering with web services. The latest attempt is codenamed “Albany.”

Last week, reports were surfacing that Albany would be a web-based version of Microsoft’s slimmer Works software suite — which includes word processing, spreadsheets, calendars, and a simple database and retails for $39.95. That’s not the first time the “online Works” rumor has surfaced.

In September of 2006, Reuters reported that Microsoft was considering releasing an online version of Works to preempt the then unreleased Google Docs and Spreadsheets Internet application. A year later, in August 2007, a rumor surfaced that Works was going free and ad-supported in an attempt to compete with Google, but would still be a desktop application. Neither rumor panned out. Works remains a for-pay, desktop application that doesn’t appear to have anything to do with Microsoft’s web office strategy.

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