To much fanfare this week Microsoft have announced the forthcoming launch of the latest version of their MS Office Suite. Yet, while the full version of Office 2010 is likely to be as large in size and price as its predecessors, Microsoft have thrown a curve-ball confirming that soon, all Office applications will be available for free through the web.

Sales of traditional Office suite licences are expected to remain a large chunk of Microsoft’s profits but in a clear attack on Google Docs the US software giants are releasing a virtual but cut-down version of Office for customers to use online to edit their documents which will be free and accessible to Windows Live subscribers. As part of their recent collaboration deal, the new service is already on test for all Facebook users, giving users a familiar look to applications but in an unfamiliar online version.

“The way people work is changing… they are working more and more from everywhere… home and the workspace are merging.” Per-Olof Schroeder from Microsoft’s Office division told the BBC, suggesting that improved technology makes virtual access more reliable and usable than before.

On the back of the success of Microsoft’s Sharepoint in the business world, Microsoft is clearly looking to provide for the era of cloud computing. With still technically in ‘beta’ testing and the full range of Office applications yet to be added, it might not yet spell the end of the traditional way consumers use their PCs but is a positive move in trying to win back many users who may have drifted away to free or cheaper software alternatives.