Microsoft axes paid versions of Office Live Small Business

Microsoft axes paid versions of Office Live Small Business

Summary: Microsoft is merging the three existing paid versions of its Office Live Small Business product into one and making that single version available for free, the company announced on February 11.

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Microsoft is merging the three existing paid versions of its Office Live Small Business product into one and making that single version available for free, the company announced on February 11.

Office Live Small Business is the set of Web-based services, targeted at companies with 10 employees or fewer, that are designed to complement Microsoft Office. Since Microsoft rolled out the first version of these services in October 2006, they were available in three different flavors: a free, entry-level product (Office Live Small Business Basics); a mid-range offering (Office Live Small Business Essentials) for $19.95 per month; and a high-end service (Office Live Small Business Premium) for $39.95 per month.

Now there will be one combined, free offering, known as Office Live Small Business, that will supplant these three SKUs. Microsoft will offer add-on services to this free SKU for a monthly subscription fee, however.

One such paid service is Store Manager, a hosted e-commerce offering for $39.95 per month, that will help customers sell products on their own site, as well as on eBay. (Microsoft is planning to support other e-commerce sites with future releases, officials said.) Another example: Custom domain name and e-mail support, which will provide customers with private domain-name registration, plus 100 company-branded e-mail addresses, each with 5 GB of storage. Microsoft is offering that service for free for the first year and $14.95 per year after that.

Microsoft officials said they decided to eliminate the paid SKUs of Office Live Small Business as a result of customer feedback. When Microsoft first rolled out the service, customers wanted choice, claimed Baris Cetinok, director of product management and marketing for Microsoft Office Live Small Business. When Microsoft was working on the revamped Office Live Small Business line-up, customers said too many SKUs were confusing and they'd prefer a simpler, streamlined offering.

The new single SKU of Office Live Small Business, which will be available to customers starting today, adds support for Firefox 2.0 and synchronization with Microfot Office Outlook. Microsoft also  is making available to customers a beta of an e-mail marketing service, that will allow Office Live Small Business customers to send up to 200 e-mails for free (during the beta test process) to their customers for promotional purposes.

As of today, Microsoft's Office Live line-up looks like this:

For consumers: Office Live Workspace -- a service that will allow Office users to collaborate and share documents online.

For small businesses: Office Live Small Business

For enterprise users: Office Online -- the growing family of Microsoft-hosted services for larger users, including Office Exchange Online, Office SharePoint Online and Office Communications Online.

Microsoft officials have predicted the Office Live family will emerge within the next couple of years to be one of Microsoft's biggest and most prosperous product families.  So far, however, these services haven't taken the world by storm.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software, SMBs

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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11 comments
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  • It's just not worth paying for. (nt)

    (nt)
    bjbrock
    • Like Google services? NT

      NT
      quikboy
  • going in the right direction

    Now simplify the features all the versions and let users/businesses turn on/off what features they need. Also, follow the Google Apps pricing model.
    killerbunny
  • do they do support?

    i heard u don't need an IT staff wit this product. Do they support everything and set it all up?
    Chustar
  • EPIC FAIL!

    EOM
    argosy1
  • RE: Microsoft axes paid versions of Office Live Small Business

    Right-hand doesn't know what left is doing:

    News Release says: "A simplified sign-up process allows small-business owners to get started quickly. Users no longer have to choose a domain name at sign up or enter their credit card."

    Credit card is still required on sign up form. WTF?
    mapsemru
    • simplified billing

      Read between the lines: "We still want your CC# so you can easily and/or accidentally turn on one of our premium add-ons to suck you dry with the setup, first month, and shutoff charges." It's just too easy to realize you've mistakenly turned on a premium service if they ask for the CC# afterwards.
      jheine
  • Trick Or Treat! An early Halloween...........

    You can bet your bottom line that it will be
    yours that gets tricked and Microsoft's that
    gets treated.

    Read your history, folks. What do you expect
    out of a skunk? Hint: He's gonna stink,
    sooner or later.

    IEEE.org: Why Microsoft Smears-and
    Fears-Open Source [Eric Raymond]

    http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2001-08-18-003-20-OP-MS&tbovrmode=3
    Ole Man
  • A better strategy

    I think a better service would be to allow users offer their products to USA market, for instance, using a data base of possible customers provided by Microsoft(agreement with Thomas Register and Chambers of Commerce and Industry needed) Maybe the adds could be the condiditons for selling in USA users products These suggestions could justify payment for the service .Not 200 e mails for who???
    francisco1de9jess46
  • New service has free applications and access to custom solutions

    Most of the comments on this new release don't seem to mention that the free service includes both web site, email and business application offerings. Using these apps information can be published from private spaces to web sites and vice versa. Also, as well as access to a range of standard free applications, custom solutions covering both web pages and business applications can be uploaded to your site! Check out the solutions at www.web2consult.com
    - the first one's developed for Office Live Small Business - to see what I mean!
    Chris Wray
  • RE: Microsoft axes paid versions of Office Live Small Business

    I've been using OLSB for two months and in that time MS has axed all possible usefulness out of the offering. Gone are Business Applications, Store manager, AdManager. The contact manager is completely incompatible with Outlook. The 'branded email' is nothing more than live.com email. The website capabilities are so pathetic that you can't even add a folder to organize web pages and oddly, no .Net support.

    What's left? A sharepoint server serving workspaces.
    abcgt