Microsoft has big hopes and plans for Office Live, its family of Web-based add-ons to Microsoft Office and SharePoint currently aimed at small- to mid-size business customers.
One way the Redmondians plan to grow the Office Live business is by expanding its stable of offerings both up and down market, as company officials said last year. It wasn't until this week, however, that Microsoft said more on that front.
At the Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, CEO Steve Ballmer said Microsoft plans to reposition its current family of Office Live products as "Office Live Small Business." It is doing this to make way for "more personal Office Live services," in Ballmer's words.
What will be included in this "personal Office Live Services" line-up? Not surprisingly, the Office Live team isn't talking. A company spokeswoman provided me with the usual "there is nothing new to announce at this time" statement.
What if Microsoft were to introduce a Microsoft-hosted version of Microsoft Works, its low-end productivity suite, as an "Office Live"-branded product? Such an offering could be free and ad-supported or made available on a subscription basis, like a number of Microsoft's existing Office Live products already are. Or maybe Office Live personal services will be some kind of rebranding of Office Online content/templates/services....
(Meanwhile, Microsoft still has said nothing about its plans to introduce Office Live services for bigger customers.)
However it eventually fills in its Office Live gaps, Microsoft has some incredibly ambitious goals for this expanding set of services.
During his July 10 Worldwide Partner keynote, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told conference attendees Microsoft believes in two to three years Office Live will be one of the most important product families for the company as a whole.
"We fully believe and expect in two or three years Office Live will be one of the most deployed, most utilized of all the products that we have in the Microsoft portfolio. Certainly it won't be as big as Windows in a couple of years, but we do believe it will reach our top three or four largest deployed applications that we have around the world. There's millions and millions of small businesses that we can reach, and we've got a big opportunity to drive it with Office Live, and there's a huge opportunity for you as partners to participate in it," Turner said.
What kinds of end-user Office services would you be interested in seeing Microsoft roll out?