Microsoft is expected to launch a cloud version of its popular Office applications Tuesday, in a move that is aimed at protecting its turf against Google and other cloud-oriented competitors.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer is expected to unveil Office 365 at an event scheduled in New York. Microsoft has dabbled in cloud-based applications, and most notably offers a cloud version of its Outlook email offering that has proved popular with government clients.

Office 365, however, is believed to signal a much broader push by the software giant into the cloud space, and shows its willingness to now depart from its profitable desktop licensing model. Nearly nine out of every 10 computers runs a version of its Office applications.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is likely to offer Office 365 on a “pay-as-you-need” basis, meaning that a company might purchase only the applications an individual worker might need as opposed to buying the suite of Office applications. A user who might only need email access, for example, could result in fees of as little as $2 per month.

While Microsoft may have its eye on capturing more revenue, it also is facing perhaps the first real threat to its Office franchise in more than two decades. Google, with its Google Apps online productivity offerings, now claims more than 30 million users.




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