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Watch out Google: Microsoft delivers free Office Web Apps one week early

Microsoft's answer to Google Apps goes live

Microsoft promised to release Office Web Apps by June 15, but got them out to the Intertubes one week early.

Microsoft's answer to Google Apps, Office Web Apps is a consumer service composed of free online versions of Microsoft's productivity applications, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. When Microsoft announced the newest versions of Office and SharePoint back in May, the company said Office Web Apps would be available June 15.

Instead, Microsoft made the cloud-based version of Office available on Monday to Windows Live users in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland, with support in English, Spanish and French. The tools will be released in more languages and to more world regions over the next few months.

Office 2010 is still on track for a June 15 release.

"We'll have more to share early next week when Office 2010 is released to consumers, including how Office 2010 + SkyDrive + Office Web Apps give you a great experience across the PC, phone and browser," Microsoft Office Web Apps program manager Nick Simons said in his blog. 

If you go to the main Office Web Apps site, you'll see the service is still described as being in beta. But the Web Apps are available at Office.live.com.

"If you live in the US, UK, Canada, or Ireland, you can head over to Office.live.com today to start viewing and editing Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote documents right in your web browser - and share them with your friends," Microsoft said. 

The free Office Web Apps should not be confused with the similar Business Productivity Online Suite,  which, of course, is targeted at Microsoft's business customers and offers richer functionality starting at $10 per user per month. BPOS consists of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online.  

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter. 

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