Microsoft announced today that they are set to launch their long-rumored subscription-based version of its Office software. Dubbed Equipt, the new service combines Office Home and Student, Workspaces, OneCare, and a handful of other free Windows Live applications into a single package. It will cost about $69 a year and can be installed on up to three PCs.

By comparison, users wanting to buy those programs the traditional way would have to shell out about $200. Equipt customers would also be entitled to receive updates to any of the suite's components, during the year, for free as part of their paid subscription. The idea behind this relatively new business model is to lower the entry barrier for new PC buyers and turn them into Office buyers, instead of them going for an older or pirated copy of the software.

Microsoft plans to begin selling Equipt exclusively through the Circuit City retail chain starting July 15, with other distribution channels to follow both in the U.S. and abroad.