Microsoft grows its Office Live family

Summary:It's been a while since the Office Live team has made any public announcements. But behind the scenes, the unit is expanding its stable of offerings to include a number of Microsoft managed services that curretly aren't thought of as "Office Live."

It's been a while since the Office Live team has made any public announcements. But behind the scenes, the unit is expanding its stable of offerings to include a number of Microsoft managed services that currently aren't thought of as "Office Live."

Here's a quick Office Live refresher: Office Live, in spite of its name, is not a Web-based, hosted version of Microsoft Office. Office Live are a set of Web-based add-ons to Microsoft Office and SharePoint aimed at small- to mid-size business customers.

(Just to keep things confusing, Office Live Communications Server 2007, the follow-on to Live Communications Server -- which I'm expecting Microsoft to ship release to manufacturing by the end of next week if it is to make good on its "first half of 2007" target -- has nothing to do with Office Live.)

Last October, Microsoft rolled out its first three Office Live services: Office Live Basics (free and ad-supported); Office Live Essentials ($19.95 a month per company) and Office Live Premium ($39.95 a month per company). (A fourth member of the family, Office Live Collaboration, never made it out the door and remains in beta test. The original trio of Office Live products encompass everything from Web-site design tools, to hosted storage space, to shared online workspaces.

This week, thanks to a link from Richard MacManus on Read/Write Web, I revisited Microsoft's Office Live product page. Here are the products listed on it now:

* Office Live Basics * Office Live Essentials * Office Live Premium * Office Live Collaboration * Office Accounting Express 2007 (a freebie for Essentials and Premium users) * Office Live Groove team-collaboration product * Office Live Meeting

It's also interesting to me what's not on the product list: Microsoft SharedView (code-named Tahiti) -- Microsoft's light version of Live Meeting. SharedView, which is currently in beta, enables small groups to share presentations -- which also is one of the features of Zenter, the presentation-software vendor Google acquired on June 19.

Office Live Groove, which is going for $79.95 per year per user, seems to be the Microsoft-hosted version of Groove Enterprise Services for small to mid-size businesses. And Office Live Meeting -- Microsoft's hosted Web conferencing service which is due for a refresh this fall -- has a price that "varies," according to Microsoft's Office Live page.

I'd expect Microsoft to refresh officially its Office Live line-up this fall. I'm wondering what else the Redmondians will fold into its Office Live family in the coming weeks/months. Perhaps some more of Microsoft's rapidly expanding set of managed services? Any Office Live users out there hearing any scuttlebutt on what's next?

Topics: Microsoft

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Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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