Neowin is receiving reports that Microsoft has released codename "Albany" to beta testers. While details remain scarce, we do have a copy of Albany installed, and have discovered a little bit about what it is. It appears to be a collection of pieces of software from Microsoft, such as Office Home and Student and Windows Live OneCare, available on a subscription basis, possibly the start of Microsoft moving to a "software as a service" sales model.
The subscription also promises free updates, but it is unclear right now if that means major updates, or the updates users who own the full versions of the product receive on a monthly basis. In addition, Microsoft has promised a free subscription, when the beta ends, to the first 200 beta testers who install the software.
Included with the package are: Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft Office Home and Student, and Office Live Workspace, plus Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Mail, and Windows Live Photo Gallery.
The installation takes "about 20 minutes", and includes a software center of sorts, once installed, which allows you to launch the products included.
From Microsoft: "Albany" is the codename for a new all-in-one subscription service of essential security and software consumers told us were most important to them. In one easy install, "Albany" gives you Windows Live OneCare security and performance tools, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, and Windows Live communication and sharing tools, plus an easy way to connect to Microsoft Office Live Workspace.