Microsoft Launches Beta of New All-in-One Service for Consumers

REDMOND, Wash., April 18, 2008 – Microsoft today launched a private beta program for a new service, code-named “Albany.”

PressPass spoke with “Albany” Group Product Manager Bryson Gordon to learn more about what consumers can expect from the service and what it will enable them to do.

PressPass: What is “Albany”?

Gordon: “Albany” is the codename for a new all-in-one subscription service of essential software and services consumers told us were most important to them. We’ve pulled together the productivity tools people need to organize their lives, security to help keep their personal information safe and online services that make it easy for them to keep in touch with friends and family, and folded them all into a single service that also ensures the user’s PC is running the latest security and productivity software.

With just a few clicks, “Albany” subscribers will be able install the whole package, which includes Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, giving them the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for their personal and school projects; Windows Live OneCare to help keep viruses at bay and their computer fast and healthy; and Windows Live Mail, Messenger and Photo Gallery so they can connect and share with others. Albany also installs the Microsoft Office Live Workspace connector on the Microsoft Office toolbar, so users can save documents to their own dedicated online workspace and invite friends and classmates to collaborate and share.

Additionally, with “Albany” consumers get the latest versions of Microsoft Office Home and Student and Windows Live OneCare as they’re released. Combined with ongoing security updates, consumers can have the peace of mind that they have protection from the most recent security threats and that their PC is running at its peak.

The beta program we’re announcing today spans a broad cross-section of users and is an integral part of bringing a new service to market.

PressPass: Why is Microsoft making this offering and why now?

Gordon: We asked consumers what they needed and wanted most on their PC, and the overwhelming response was that they primarily want productivity and security software. Consumers also expressed frustration at having to spend time and effort installing different types of software, keeping current on new versions and getting their computers set up. We’re just making it really convenient and painless for consumers to get up and running in a few mouse-clicks with the best-in-class Microsoft Office suite that they love and software and services they’ve told us are indispensable to getting the most out of their PC, while staying up-to-date with the latest versions of their software without having to purchase subsequent versions.

We expect “Albany” to resonate broadly with consumers – whether they’re buying a new primary PC, a second one for their household or trying to get more from an existing PC. Because each “Albany” subscription is good for three PCs, “Albany” is ideal for individuals with one or several computers, as well as families.

“Albany” is also another prime example of how we are delivering on our software plus services strategy of offering customers a combination of the rich performance and capabilities that you only get from software running on a client PC with the convenience and connectivity of the Web. “Albany” seamlessly connects the Web and desktop to improve customers’ productivity and computing experience, and harnesses the unbeatable convenience of the Internet as a delivery mechanism to ensure people’s software is up to date.

PressPass: Why is Microsoft using a subscription-based pricing model here?

Gordon: We’re breaking new ground by delivering Microsoft Office in combination with security and communication tools, plus ensuring our customers are on the cutting edge with the very latest versions. We found from our research that when you bring these categories together and keep them automatically updated, a subscription model makes a lot of sense.

At the same time, we are definitely not straying from our traditional software sales model. There will always be a significant number of users for whom purchasing a perpetual license to the latest version of Office is still the best choice. “Albany” just gives customers more choice and addresses the needs of those customers who value having the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Office.

PressPass: How does “Albany” relate to the next version of Office?

Gordon: “Albany” is not the next version of Microsoft Office; it’s just another way to get the current version plus other software and services that consumers consider indispensable for getting the most out of their PC. With the subscription model, when the next release of Microsoft Office comes out, “Albany” customers with an active subscription will automatically get an upgrade to this version – at no extra cost, as part of their subscription.

PressPass: When will “Albany” be available, how much will it cost and where will consumers be able to get hold of it?

Gordon: We’ll be providing more information later in the year on “Albany’s” availability, pricing and how people can get their hands on it.

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