Microsoft Office Live migration is adding insult to injury

Microsoft Office Live migration is adding insult to injury

Summary: On January 29, Microsoft posted on the Office Live blog a status update on its plan to transition nearly 200,000 beta testers to the final version of Office Live. The news isn't good

TOPICS: Microsoft

On January 25, my ZDNet blogging colleague Phil Wainewright noted that Microsoft had left in limbo more than 190,000 Office Live beta testers since November 2006, when Microsoft ended the beta for its small-business services offering.

On January 29, Microsoft posted to the Office Live blog a status update re: the migration. The news isn't good.

Office Live logoBeta testers are still potentially "months" away from being migrated to the final version of their Office Live services. Functionality like backup and restore isn't going to work until their accounts are migrated. And Microsoft will give testers only a 24-hour heads-up when they are set to be migrated. During that 24-hour period, users won't be able to make changes to their Office Live sites.

Here's part of the January 29 note to testers:

"Yes, we have started upgrading our Microsoft Office Live Beta customers to the latest version of Microsoft Office Live. "Microsoft Office Live team has been working really hard to upgrade our customers who joined Microsoft Office Live during our beta program to the latest version of Office Live. We understand that many of you are eager to try out the features in the new version. Our goal is to upgrade our Office Live Beta customers to the latest release in the most reliable way.

"Over the next few months, you will receive e-mails at your Microsoft Office Live e-mail account informing you about the time of your account upgrade and the details about the process.

"You can continue to use your existing Microsoft Office Live Beta account fully till the time of the move."

What the heck is the hold-up? I asked Microsoft's Office Live team and got no explanation. But on the Office Live questions and answers page, there's an attempt at a justification:

"We are currently testing account transfer processes in order to identify any potential issues before moving customer accounts. We anticipate moving customer accounts over to the new release of Microsoft Office Live in the late January - early February time frame. Once we begin, we plan on moving beta customer accounts over in batches, a process which could take a few months."

(Wouldn't it seem logical to test the account-transfer processes before closing out the beta? Just wondering ….)

Another Office Live gotcha that will become more obvious as the company transitions customers from beta to final involves the changes Microsoft made to the planned Office Live SKU line-up. Back in November, Microsoft officials told me that a previously unannounced SKU, Office Live Essentials, would take the place of Office Live Collaboration.

However, according to an updated Office Live pricing chart, it looks, instead, as if Office Live Collaboration is still on the books. Instead, Microsoft is planning to move automatically its Office Live Essentials customers to the pricier Office Live Premium SKU.

Microsoft is referring to Office Live Premium as the former "Office Live Essentials beta." Office Live Essentials was priced at $19.95 per month; Office Live Premium is $39.95 per month. The fine print:

"If you are an Office Live Essentials subscriber, you will automatically be moved to the new Office Live Premium service. This will allow you to retain the online Business Applications that were included in the Office Live Essentials Beta. Once you have been successfully moved to the new Office Live you will be need to agree to the new service agreement upon signing in to regain access to your account. Your credit card will be charged $39.95 for the first month's subscription. You have 30 days to decide whether you want to continue with Office Live Premium. If you switch to another Microsoft Office Live offering or cancel within that 30 days, we will credit the full $39.95 back to your credit card."

I've received a few e-mails from Office Live testers over the last few months. None of those writing in has had good experiences with Microsoft's first-generation of Office Live services. This slow and complicated migration process is only adding insult to injury.

Any Office Live testers out there who aren't running into problems? 

Topic: Microsoft


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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  • At least they HAVE a final version

    and aren't in perpetual Beta like most of Google's services...
    • Uhhh...

      The article was about how they DID NOT have a final version. Sure, there's one PROMISED sometime.
      • You got that wrong!

        They have a final version of Office Live; which the people are wanting to be migrated to. Everything works on that side. But tell me, who creates a production "beta tester migration process"?? No one! To expect any company to have a production version of a beta tester migration process is ludicris. Beta is just that- test! When the production version comes out, the user should switch to the production version. Having even an inkling of a mindset that your beta test data will be migrated is a misinterpretation and complete misunderstanding of what you agreed to in the beta test agreement. If the migration happens at all it is only by the goodness of the company. You have no right to any data in a beta test. The article is about migrating people over to the final verson.


        RIF! = Reading is Fundamental! Don't just tell your kids this, be an good example - and do it yourself too!
        • "If the migration happens at all it is only by the goodness of the company"

          Yup. And we all know there is no 'goodness' in Microsoft ;-)
          • I guess you need reminded, again.

          • Charity, not quality and service

            "Boosted by the philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates"

            Note that it doesn't say "boosted by excellent product quality and customer service."
          • ha ha ha ho ho ho

            They should ask their customers!
            Ole Man
    • Beta vs. Crap?

      So, just because you call something final, that makes it better than a beta, even if the "final" is crap? Now that's a business plan!
      • If you don't like it

        Don't use it you condescending fool. <br>
        Hurry along now, the Chancellor is expecting you to fulfill your shill duties elsewhere.
        • Your usual...

          ...useless reply. However, I long ago took your advice about not using the product AND encouraging others to avoid it. Hopefully everyone will follow your advice, too.

          The Chancellor? Your imaginary friend?
        • Careful!

          Your intelligence level is showing.
          Ole Man
  • This doesn't sound good.

    "Once we begin, we plan on moving beta customer accounts over in batches, a process which could take a few months."

    If this is a limited test of beta users, what's going to happen when they go "Live" and have, what they hope, is a larger base using it? Are they going to batch the customer accounts over a period of years when they patch or have an upgrade?
  • I gave up!

    When Office Live was announced in Feb 06 - i thought it was the answer to all my problems.. Once i finally got on the beta in March i was shocked as to how under-powered it was and how un-customizable it was.. Once the new upgrade came out in November, I waited a few weeks, realized that MS is never going to upgrade the beta accounts, and signed up for the 30 day trial of the new office live.. I was STILL unimpressed - it was an uncustomizable program that did not offer the customization that i needed! Not only that, but it was never (And still isnt) clear how to customize things using Workflows, etc..

    Finally I gave up and am using SharePoint server from my Hosted Exchange provider - its saving me aBUNDLE of money (9.95 a month, compared to 39.95 a month) AND it lets me customize things to my hearts content! Wow. Its too bad that I wasted a whole year waiting for Office Live when Sharepoint is all I needed.

    Hopefully CRM Live wont be a disaster like Office Live has been..
  • Beta means test right?

    As usual I am irked by this author. For some reason, she has this "I want MS to get everything perfect" thing going on. First off, beta test means "don't put any of your production information in the system". What part about that does she or the beta testers NOT understand. Either they can't read or they just want someone to blame for their bad decision. We all know that MS has the same basic language in the agreement that goes along with beta testing. They offer no guarantees; no one does. Listen, you signed up for a beta test. You should have been prepared at the beginning to lose everything; that is what beta testing is all about.

    MS has stated they will migrate people over to the production version from beta. Something you rarely see. Most companies make you redo everyting. MS, knowing how important this data is the the beta testers, they want to be sure they get the migration process right. If MS did it quickly and goofed peoples stuff up, this author would complain. MS taking their time to get it right, this author will complain. Sounds like there is nothing to complain about but a desire to have someone to blame, so "let just blame MS". And with sympathizers like this author that don't seem to like to "take responsibility for my own decision", some people they will always have this sense of entitlement when dealing with MS; like MS actually owes them something. You are a beta tester for cryin out loud. If you don't know what beta means ask around, google it!

    This is yet another completely biased article on the authors part that continues to show she doesn't have an objective (reality-based) bone in her body.
    • Don't sweat it....

      as zdnet posted in DB's headline on the "useless" Vista firewall, blogs are basically noting more than gossip columns. This reminds me of Rona Barrett doing tech. ;) <br>
      However, after many had called DB out on the story and zd posted that blogs are just opinions, not news, it was noticed by many it was posted as the headline under NEWS. It was changed very shortly thereafter.

      Nothing against zdnet here, like a blog, it's just opinion.
    • You're wrong...

      Mary Jo, like many other people, expects reasonable competence, something that rarely seems to occur in this industry. As an industry leader, Microsoft should exhibit that competence, but rarely does. Office Live is a prime example of this lack and the excuse making that follows. Demanding increased competence from companies like Microsoft is exactly the kind of job Mary Jo and other tech pundits should be doing. Labeling the author and the article as "biased" will not change the facts.
  • Usual Mary-Jo Post

    Usual Mary-Jo post. Slightly better than her man with two heads story...
  • I was a tester...

    ...and I gave up long ago. Office Live is a non-functional piece of junk, and the support for it is even worse. For example, my email have never worked, so I sent a support request. Two weeks later, I got a reply telling me how to fix MSN Messenger! I spent months trying to get the email to work and finally gave up in frustration after calling Microsoft corporate and being told that there was no one there who could help.

    The best way to handle Office Live is to stay far, far away from it. Certainly DO NOT try to use it for anything business related.
    • So you are saying you failed!

      So, YOU were not able to get it done. So that makes it Junk? At least 190,000 other people disagree and that was just in beta.
      • uh-huh...

        LOL! Yeah, that lame argument will wash. First, I am not supposed to "get it done." As a tester, my job is to see that the developer got it done. Second, I'm pretty sure that Microsoft is not publishing the number of dissatisfied users for whom the program failed, however a quick check around the web and through a few forums (including Microsoft's own) tells the story.

        Next time, come with something real.