Microsoft has released the beta of Office Live, which offers small-business owners (and others!) the opportunity to sample (for free) the company’s new Internet-based software services. If you’re interested in participating in the beta program, register online at http://www.OfficeLive.com.
The illustration below is the screen users would see when they sign up for Microsoft Office Live.
Office Live is designed to help lower the barriers to doing business online by offering small companies a set of Internet-based business services. Designed for ease of use and affordability, the online services are designed to give small businesses the same advantages as larger enterprises by getting them up and running on the Internet quickly, easily and inexpensively without traditional enterprise management requirements.
Microsoft Office Live offers free domain name, Web site and company e-mail accounts that are advertising-supported to more comprehensible services available on a subscription-fee basis. The offerings are designed to be especially attractive to companies with 10 or fewer employees, which typically lack in-house technical resources or the budget to keep an IT person on staff.
An all-in-one solution supported by online advertising, the beta trial offers free versions of all three Microsoft Office Live versions included in the initial public release:
• Microsoft Office Live Basics. A collection of free services (advertising-supported) will provide a small business with the core requirements for establishing an online identity. Services include a company domain name; five e-mail accounts using that company domain name, each with 2 GB of storage; a Web site with 30 MB of file storage space; an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop design tool for creating a professional-quality Web site; and a tool for monitoring and analyzing Web site traffic. Below is a screen shot of Live Mail.
• Microsoft Office Live Collaboration. Designed for small businesses that may already have a Web site, this subscription offering provides a rich, versatile set of Internet-based business management tools that are managed and maintained by Microsoft. Based on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services technology, the Microsoft Office Live Collaboration service offers small businesses password-protected online workspaces (intranets and extranets). Capabilities include customer management, project management, sales and marketing management, employee management and company administration as well as password-protected internal shared sites to facilitate collaboration among employees, customers, suppliers and other business partners.
• Microsoft Office Live Essentials. A comprehensive set of business services, this subscription offering will provide the resources and collaboration tools needed to establish and manage a small business online. Services include a company domain name; 50 e-mail accounts using that company domain name, each with 2 GB of storage; a Web site with 50 MB of file storage space; the same Web design tool as Microsoft Office Live Basics, plus Microsoft Office FrontPage support for advanced Web design; more advanced Web site analytics; and a rich set of Internet-based applications to help small-business owners streamline and automate daily business tasks, such as management of customers, projects and documents.
All three Microsoft Office Live services are designed to work independently, as well as to integrate with other programs in the Microsoft Office suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.