Microsoft is working on a new hosted software package codenamed Albany, according to TechWorld. Project Albany puts together a Office, Office Live Workspaces, Windows Live OneCare and the Windows Live suite of services in one package that eventually is expected to be available in retail outlets such as Best Buy.
The source, who asked not to be named, said Microsoft is asking select testers to try out the Project Albany beta, but is requiring them to sign a non-disclosure agreement just to participate in the test. The main focus of the initial beta is to test the unified installer for the package.
It's unclear how much of Office will make it into Albany. Because of its price points and functionality, Office Home and Student 2007, which include Word, Excel and PowerPoint, are the most likely candidates for inclusion in the new suite, which is expected to be fairly low-cost. Other products that are expected to be a part of Project Albany are hosted services Microsoft has developed over the past few years.
Office Live Workspaces is Microsoft's hosted service for storing and sharing documents online, while Windows Live OneCare is a security service that includes firewall and anti-virus protection.
Windows Live services include hosted email, search, photo-sharing and other services; it is also not certain at this time which of these services will be a part of Albany.