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Office Web Apps to go worldwide in March

Microsoft's free, Web-based version of Office is headed to every market by next month, the company says.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
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Microsoft says that by next month, users worldwide will be able to get their hands on the free, online version of its Office suite.

In a post on the Office Blog earlier this week, the company said that it had expanded Office Web Apps availability in 150 new countries including Mexico, India, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and that by next month it will hit "all remaining markets in Central and South America."

The free service, which contains Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote,was launched by Microsoft in June of last year. Microsoft says that 30 million people are now using it.

Besides creating documents through the Office component of Windows Live, Office Web Apps exist on Facebook through Docs.com, as well as with some recent integration that use the hosted productivity tools to open up attachments. That same functionality is also built into Hotmail, where it was seeing 500 percent growth (month by month) in use, according to stats Microsoft released late last year.

Office Web Apps is just the latest in a series of Microsoft's Web properties to vie for the important "worldwide" moniker. The last one was Windows Live Messenger, which this week expanded its Facebook chat connector to all markets.