Microsoft has been dabbling with online productivity suites before, but this now looks to be the real deal...
Dubbed 'Office Web', it makes its public debut just one day after Windows 7 was formally shown and distributed to developers and brings virtually full scale Office 2007 experience to users anywhere they have a broadband Internet connection.
Designed to be as consistent with Office 2007 as possible different programmes can be run simultaneously in the same browser or over different tabs and while Microsoft hasn't disclosed whether this will have to be Internet Explorer *screams in terror* as with Web Outlook, both online and offline working moves will be made available.
Interestingly, Microsoft is also said to be toying with the idea of making both an annual subscription based version of Office Web and an ad-supported free edition which could open up the suite to the masses as the company aims to fight back against the likes of Google Documents.
As for a release timeframe, Microsoft is expected to simultaneously launch Office Web with the next generation of Office (currently dubbed 'Office 14') which would suggest an appearance close to Windows 7. Between then however expect an array of beta releases - initially only to developers - and far more meaty info as this intriguing suite starts to gather momentum...
Incidentally, with Office Web has there ever been a greater need for the widespread adoption of the tab sandboxing feature seen in Google Chrome...?!