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With Office 365, Microsoft says, hey, Google, get off of my 'cloud'

Office 365 puts documents in the 'cloud,' and Google Docs in its crosshairs.

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at the launch of the company's Office 365 cloud service in New York, June 28, 2011.

Ray Stubblebine/REUTERS

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Microsoft Corp is making its biggest move into the mobile, Internet-accessible world of 'cloud' computing this week, as it takes the wraps off Office 365, a revamped online version of its hugely profitable Office software suite.

The world's largest software company is heaving its two-decade old set of applications -- including Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint collaboration tools -- into an online format so that customers can use them on a variety of devices from wherever they can get an Internet connection.

It wants to push back against Google Inc, which has stolen a small but worrying percentage of its corporate customers with cheaper, web-only alternatives, which remove the need for companies to spend time on installing software or managing servers.

"It's obvious that Microsoft has to do this if they're going to remain competitive with Google,'' said Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of money manager YCMNET Advisors. "It's something they have to do."

Microsoft shares rose 3.7 percent Monday, the largest gain in a single trading day since September, partly buoyed by hopes that Office 365 could ultimately boost profits by extending the company's software dominance to the growing cloud sector.

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