Microsoft will build on Windows and Office with Live services

Microsoft last week gave journalists and net users a sneak peek of its forthcoming internet-based software services, named Windows Live and Microsoft Office Live. These are designed to help consumers and small business users bring together their digital online lives and – in the case of the latter - make doing online business an easier task.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  November 7, 2005

Microsoft last week gave journalists and net users a sneak peek of its forthcoming internet-based software services, named Windows Live and Microsoft Office Live. These are designed to help consumers and small business users bring together their digital online lives and – in the case of the latter - ease the pain of doing business online. “They’re natural complements to Office and Windows,” explained Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates in his webcast presentation. “They don’t replace anything – they’re not required to use Office or Windows – but they provide rich capabilities that let you get more out of those things.” “Our goal is to make Windows, Office and Xbox further come alive for our customers at work, home and play,” Gates added. Windows Live is aimed squarely at consumers and when it is rolled out, probably next year, will comprise a set of personal internet services and software designed to bring together in one place all of the relationships, information and interests people care about, as well as adding more safety and security features across their PC, devices and the web. At a preview event in the US last week that was simultaneously webcast, Microsoft’s technical team demonstrated early versions of Windows Live offerings, several of which are accessible to any interested at http://ideas.live.com. These components include the portal www.live.com, which the firm is touting as the personalised starting point for all Windows Live services. Like several of Windows Live's services including the blogging portal Spaces, this was originally trialled on Microsoft Network (MSN). It is powered by technologies such as RSS and XML, and will allow users pull together all their favoured online content such as news feeds, and even view recently opened documents. Further small applications - named 'gadgets' - can be added through logging onto www.microsoftgadgets.com. Microsoft is also pulling together some of its recent consumer developments under the Live banner, such as OneCare – a previously announced PC health subscription that will become OneCare Live, and the next version of MSN Messenger, which will take the moniker Windows Live Messenger and looks set to include social networking and internet telephony functionality. In addition, the next version of Hotmail will be branded Live Mail. Microsoft executives were at pains to point out that Windows Live - many features of which have been trialled in some form or another over the Microsoft Network - will complement rather than lead to the phasing out of MSN.com. “Millions of people enjoy the programmed content that MSN.com offers, and we will continue to deliver that experience,” said David Cole, senior vice president of MSN. “Users also want more flexibility in creating a personalised experience with access to customised content and communications. That’s what Windows Live delivers.” Most of the services and features on offer from Windows Live will be delivered to users for free and supported by advertising, however some services within it will instead use subscription and transaction-based models. Because Windows Live is available separately from Microsoft Windows, users will be able to run Windows with or without Windows Live. As for Microsoft’s Office Live, this new set of internet-based services has been expressly developed with the aim of helping the 28 million small businesses around the world with fewer than ten employees grow. Designed to help these companies establish an online presence in the first place, automate key internal and external business tasks, and collaborate with employees, partners and customers, Microsoft’s initial Office Live offerings can both be used independently and also integrate with Microsoft Office programs such as Outlook, Excel, Live Meeting and Microsoft Office Small Business Edition. “A key objective of Office Live is to provide small businesses with the power to easily and inexpensively manage their business in a way that large enterprises already enjoy today,” said Rajesh Jha, general manager of Information Worker Services at Microsoft. “With Office Live services, we make complex technology affordable and easy to use for small businesses, empowering them to reach their business goals.” There are multiple Office Live offerings due. Office Live Basics helps small businesses establish an online internet presence including a domain name, a web site with 30MB of storage and five web e-mail accounts at no charge, through an advertising-supported model. Office Live also provides a set of subscription-based services with more than 20 business applications to help automate daily business tasks such as project management, sales and collateral management, customer management, expense reports, time and billing management, and secure internal and external collaboration. Check out some more brief details at http://www.officelive.com.

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