On Friday, Microsoft announced the launch of Albany a new subscription service of essential productivity and security software and services.
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Subscribers will also be able to get the latest versions and the most recent security updates of Live OneCare which includes firewall and antivirus protection.
The Albany service does not replace the traditional distribution of software packages, Microsoft said, but addresses the needs of consumers who want the easiest possible way to receive the latest Microsoft Office and security updates.
Microsoft also said that when the next version of Office is released, customers with an active Albany subscription will automatically receive it at no additional cost.
However, the cost of the service is a mystery for now, although Microsoft said more information about pricing will be released later this year when Albany moves out of its private beta release.
There was also no mention of installation times or the availability of support, but according to various reports, Albany is yet another move by Microsoft to compete with Google Docs and other productivity suites being offered inexpensively or free to consumers on the Web.