Microsoft started testing its new way of selling Office software suite on a subscription basis using the new program that it launched on Friday, which involves packaging the Office suite with security software and free online services.

Microsoft's new program, Albany, allows consumers to download and install Office 2007, which includes Word processing and Excel spreadsheet and also receive updates for a subscription instead of a more traditional one-time license fee.

Microsoft said that its customers will also receive Windows Live OneCare, Web-based security software and online applications such as Windows Live Mail and Office Live Workspace.

The firm currently has competitors including Google and Zoho, a privately owned firm offering applications likened to Office but delivered through a Web browser for free or at a monthly subscription.