Microsoft took its Office software into the Internet "cloud" on Tuesday, moving the suite of popular business tools online amid budding competition from Google's Web-based products.
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer presided over an event here for the global launch of Office 365, which the US software giant released in beta, or test, mode in October.
Ballmer said Office 365 is "where Microsoft Office meets the cloud" and is designed for "any business of any size.
Ballmer said Office 365 gives users a host of new opportunities for online collaboration including email, shared documents, instant messaging, video and Web conferencing."
"Office 365 joins Microsoft's SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync programs as Web-hosted services, sparing businesses the expense of buying, installing and maintaining the software on their computers.
Great collaboration is critical to business growth," Ballmer said."
With Office 365 people can stay connected using instant messaging," he said. "They can conduct real-time virtual meetings with co-workers and customers and partners."
People can work together on files and documents simultaneously.