Microsoft today announced that it will release an all-in-one software subscription package that includes Live OneCare and Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007. Microsoft Equipt, formerly known as 'Albany,' will be sold in Circuit City stores starting mid-July. The subscription price for Equipt is set at $69.99 per year. Microsoft's regular price for buying Office Home and Student 2007 is around $150.

Subscribers will receive free upgrades when they become available and, just like owners of the Office Home and Student edition, subscribers can install Equipt on up to three computers in their household. Equipt will also come with a number of other Live branded Microsoft software that is available for free online already, including Live Messenger, Live Mail, and Live Photo Gallery.

It seems odd that Microsoft would (at least at first) exclusively sell this package through Circuit City. There doesn't seem to be any good reason to restrict the sale of Equipt to just one retailer, unless Microsoft is just trying to test the waters here to see how the public will react to a subscription service. While software subscriptions are common in the business market, consumers are used to buying their software outright, with maybe the exception of anti-virus software, which might explain the combination of OneCare and Office.

For users who already subscribe to OneCare at $49.95 a year, Equipt is a bargain at only $20 more a year. Subscribing to Equipt just for the Office package, though, might be less of a deal, especially given that Microsoft doesn't always upgrade Office every two years and that most users don't always need to have the latest version of MS Office.

Equipt clearly points in the direction that Microsoft wants to be going with software subscriptions - the question will be if mainstream users are ready.