Microsoft has launched a public beta of Office Live Workspace – its online service which allows users to share and store documents - and added a number of features that users can team with the desktop version of Office.

The public beta, which is now available worldwide, is limited to the English version. Microsoft has also removed its wait list requirement in hopes of scaling up the service to its 500 million Office users. Microsoft also said 13 universities are participating in the beta.

Office Live Workspace review

CEO Steve Ballmer has said that all of Microsoft's shrink-wrapped software would eventually have an online services component as part of the company's software plus services initiative. Competitors such as Google and Adobe have similar document-storage services.

The Live Workspace service is built on the back of SharePoint Server, which Microsoft is also offering as a service to enterprise users. With Office Live Workspace, documents can be created with Office or any other document editors and then uploaded to a central repository.

Microsoft has added five new features to Live Workspace including an Activity Panel, which shows all the activities in a workspace; Notifications, which provides notice of changes made to a workspace or document; Direct Links, which lets users set a browser bookmark for a particular workspace; and a drag-and-drop multifile upload capability.

Microsoft first unveiled Live Workspace in December to a limited number of beta testers. The company plans to introduce other languages and end the service's beta cycle later this year.

Microsoft officials said they see Office Live Workspace evolving over time to include even more productivity tools.