Redmond, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. officially launched their Office 365 cloud service Tuesday at an event hosted in New York by chief executive Steve Ballmer, CNET reported.

The official web service will be available in 20 different languages and in 40 countries. It was first announced in Oct. 2010, when Microsoft released their plans to open a limited beta version in 13 countries and regions, allowing consumers to test the product while reviewing user feedback.

“What happens when Microsoft Office meets the cloud?” said Ballmer at the presentation Tuesday.  “Collaboration happens in addition to productivity, anywhere for any business of any size.”

Office 365 enables companies to cut-back on technology costs by allowing their firm to supply their company’s computer needs — including Lync online communications technology and Exchange e-mail as web services.

“With Office 365, people can stay connected with instant messaging,” Ballmer said. “With Office 365, people can work together on files and documents simultaneously.”

Office is used by more than one billion people worldwide, giving it the benefit of familiarity. Office 365 competes directly with Google, which already hosts a Google Apps service similar to that of Office 365.

On Monday Shan Sinha, Google Apps product manager, blogged about Office 365 — claiming the program is “built for Microsoft. Apps is built for choice.

“You can’t just take legacy, desktop software, move some of it to a data center and call it ‘cloud.’ Apps was born for the Web and we’ve been serving hundreds of millions of users for years,” he said.

Office 365 will offer a basic service for $6 per user a month, while more features could run upwards to $27 per user a month.

Related Links: (CNET) (archived Microsoft webcast) (Office 365)