In a bid to step up competition against the growing Google Docs online eco system, Microsoft has unveiled a new online component to its Office suite called Office Live Workspace. The free service, which is currently in its beta phase, will allow users to store Word documents, Excel Spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and PDF documents online.

Workspace will give users enough online storage space to upload around 1,000 average Office documents and will give them the facility to invite others to read and add comments to the stored documents through the browser, in a password-protected environment. Unlike Google Docs, however, users must have an installed copy of Microsoft Office if they want to want to create or edit a document.

The company says Workspace may eventually become ad-supported and offer "additional features or services at a charge," though it did not offer further details. Microsoft is taking sign-ups from those interested in beta testing Office Live Workspace starting today.