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A rival to Google Drive? Microsoft launches online version of its Office software


Microsoft today launched an online version of its flagship Office software to rival “cloud” storage systems such as Google Drive.

For £79.99 a year users can access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note and other apps on up to five tablets, mobiles, Macs or PCs.

The launch came as the technology giant released a survey which showed over two-thirds (68%) of Britons said they had a happy work-life balance, with 73% saying the situation had improved since 2008.

Many felt mobile technology, such as cloud working, was responsible with 44% of the 2,000 respondents saying it had improved their working lives and 46% saying it gave them more time to do what they enjoyed.

But many may question the cost of Office365, with established options like Google Drive and others operating a largely free service, and others providing a cheaper option.

Microsoft's Abigail Rappoport said the extra £6.67 a month is worth it, pointing out that users can work offline as well as online on "rich" apps, rather than the "plain" Google.

"This is online as well as off the web - that is an important distinction," the Microsoft Office UK division director said.

"You could be somewhere which has no wi-fi connection and you still need to work - this allows you to do that."

Ms Rappoport added that Office had been popular in the past due to its "rich functionality", compared with the "plain" and "simple" Google Drive.

"You want something that is rich and impactful," she said.

"You don't get that with Google Drive - it is very plain and it is simple."

Her comments came at a launch event in central London also attended by Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood and TV presenter Tess Daly.

The new version of Office is also a service, rather than a piece of software bought in the shops. It constantly updates and can be used on several devices at once, meaning that if a customer bought a new tablet, they would not have to buy any extra software.

It also comes bundled with an hour of free Skype calls a month.

Students and others can buy a cheaper "University" edition of the package for £59.99 for a four-year subscription, featuring all the apps as well as cloud storage.

But the package can only be used on two devices, as opposed to the "Home Premium" limit of five.