Moments ago, Microsoft officially released its new cloud-based Office product, Office 365, which will compete directly with Google Docs. The Office 365 suite, which has been in public beta for awhile now, is being targeted at the enterprise market and plans for the entire suite cost between $10 and $27 each month depending on the feature set chosen. Small and medium-sized businesses can also choose a more cost effective $6 option that only includes Office Web Apps and Microsoft Exchange. Those options, however, are all more expensive than the $50 annual fee that Google charges corporate users for access to its Google Docs suite. Microsoft’s full press release follows below. More →
Apple has now reportedly signed three of four major U.S. record labels as it prepares to launch a new cloud-based streaming music service in the near future. According to Bloomberg, Apple has inked a deal with Sony that will allow the label’s massive catalog to be used alongside a forthcoming streaming product Apple will likely unveil next month. The news comes just one day after Apple is said to have finalized a similar deal with EMI. Google recently unveiled its Music Beta by Google service and before that, Amazon launched its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player products. Neither service is accompanied by deals with record labels, however, so their utility is reduced to providing users with a means to upload music they have purchased elsewhere and then stream it to a variety of devices. With the support of major labels, Apple will be able to introduce a paid service with a great deal of added functionality. “Streaming iTunes” has been rumored to be in development for years, and it looks like Apple is finally ready to make it a reality. More →
We can’t say it comes as much of a surprise, but Google has just taken the wraps off of a service many of us have been waiting for years to see… or should we say, hear. Google’s freshly unveiled Music Beta service will give users a cloud-based solution for storing and streaming their digital music collections — and we mean, their entire collections; Google’s service supports the storage of up to 20,000 songs as opposed to the 1,000 tracks supported by Amazon’s Cloud Drive product, which Music Beta will compete with directly. Google’s Music Manager app supports Windows and Mac, and it allows users to upload their tracks directly to Music Beta. The Web-based music manager is a full-featured music player that supports organization, playlist creation and plenty more. The related Android app features all of the same functionality as the Web player, and playlists created on one device will instantly be available on all devices. Recently played music is always cached by the mobile player, and albums can also be downloaded and stored for playback when data connections are unavailable. Music Beta is available initially by invitation only, and it is free — at least, it’s free during the beta period. Google’s updated music app with Music Beta support is available in the Android Market beginning today.
Sony has officially dropped the suggested retail price of the PSP in Europe to €129.99 ($187.29). This follows the company’s February 25th announcement that it was slashing the price of its gaming system to $129.99 in the United States. Sony also said that — beginning on April 14th — PSP owners will be able to access an unlimited cloud-based music service called Music Unlimited. Powered by Qriocity, Music Unlimited will allow PSP owners to listen to customized music channels or sync up with tunes stored on their PlayStation 3, PC, or other Sony devices. “The price cut is aimed at increasing adoption of the player in Europe,” said Sony spokesperson Satoshi Fukuoka. The move may also be tied to the recent launch of the Nintendo 3DS, which we reviewed earlier this month. More →