Office Live sees light of day in West
Microsoft has announced that Office Live – its new suite of online services for small businesses – is now available in the US and will next be launched in the UK, France, Germany and Japan on November 15. However it’s not yet known if or when these much-anticipated services will be made available to businesses in the Middle East.
Office Live’s set of internet-based services will initially be available in beta (or test) form, following a previous beta programme that saw 160,000 small businesses trying out the services and reporting their findings back to Microsoft.
Office Live is designed to help small businesses attract new customers, generate repeat business and easily manage their companies online by giving them the tools to establish a web presence for free, as well as a variety of easy-to-use and affordable business applications.
“Small businesses face the same pressures as large enterprises to continuously improve their offerings, raise their market profile, attract new customers and generate repeat business,” said Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office Live. “However, they typically lack the in-house IT expertise and dedicated technology budgets of most big companies. Office Live helps small-business owners close that competitive gap by giving them an affordable, comprehensive package that provides everything from Web site design to instant messaging accounts to customer and business contact management, and is customizable by Microsoft partners that can create new and industry-specific solutions.”
According to Jha’s statement on Microsoft’s Office Live launch website, more countries are to follow the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan “over the coming year”. He added, “This includes making sure we enable partners in each country to further enhance Office Live for specific market needs in those countries.”
Office Live comprises three packages:
- Office Live Basics is billed by Microsoft as “the perfect way to get started on the web”. It includes the basics a small firm needs to create their first website, including free hosting, website statistics, a personalised domain name and e-mail addresses. This version of Office Live is free of charge, both during and after the beta trial period.
- Office Live Collaboration meanwhile lets a company store, share, and manage up to 50Mbytes of business information in one central online location, so that employees in the office and out in the field can have easy, quick access to important documents and data. This data is backed up daily by Microsoft and provides data access for up to ten users. After the beta period expires, this service will be charged at US $29.95 per month (additional users and capacity can be added).
- Office Live Essentials. Effectively Office Live Basics on steroids, this service offers the same website design features plus document sharing and project tracking capabilities. It will be charged at US $19.95 per month after the beta trial finishes.