Microsoft Office Live Small Business customers: The clock is ticking

Microsoft Office Live Small Business customers: The clock is ticking

Summary: Office Live Small Business users: You have until April 30 to recreate and rehost your existing Web sites.


Microsoft officials said back in October 2010 that the company planned to phase out its Office Live Small Business (OLSB) Web-site hosting and design offering.

The date when that is set to happen -- April 30, 2012 -- is quickly approaching. Existing OLSB users need to make some decisions and take action in order to avoid losing their Web sites and content.

Microsoft's OLSB service will be discontinued on May 1, 2012, which means all access to the OLSB service and public web sites will end on that date. Existing OLSB customers have the option of transitioning to Microsoft's Office 365, which Microsoft is positioning as the replacement for OLSB. To entice them to do so, Microsoft is offering existing OLSB users six months free of Office 365. After that, OLSB users who move to the professionals and small business plan, P1, will be charged $6 per user per month for Office 365, and $15 per user per month if they also want to "rent" Office 2010 Professional Plus. Custom domain fees are not included in Office 365 prices.

Whether OLSB users opt to go with Office 365 or not, they will need to manually recreate their websites, which involves copying and pasting all text, pictures, and any other website elements they want to move. They also need to update their domain DNS records to their new hosting provider.

"I believe the number of users that understand what is about to happen is very small," said one now-former OLSB customer, Jeff Zuber, co-owner of Best Buddy Dog Wash. "I sincerely fear that the vast majority of the millions of small businesses and non-profits using OLSB really have no clue about what is going to happen, or just don't have the skills to follow the proposed migration path. On May, those people will wake up to find their websites are gone along with their domain names. At that time they will be faced with the cruel fact that the website they depended on for their business is gone and it's too late to do anything about it."

Microsoft is offering videos and online support in an attempt to help users move from OLSB to Office 365 or another hosting provider. Microsoft has a migration transition center and some of its reseller/integration partners are touting their ability to help users transition. One of its partners, CloudVisors, has created a tool that is designed to transition OLSB sites to Office 365 (on which they're offering a 50 percent discount to all OLSB users).

While Microsoft officials have touted how well Office 365 has been selling to small businesses, there's a question as to whether customers who need little more than bare-bones Web site creation and hosting will want and need to go to the more fully featured and more complex Office 365.

Zuber said Microsoft needs to make it crystal clear to OLSB users that any custom domains purchased via Microsoft will be lost as of May 1 unless users take action.

"I found it unbelievable that I received a notice two days ago that I would be billed by Microsoft in April for automatic renewal of one of my custom domains. Nothing in the billing notice reminded me that I would lose my domain if I didn't move it within two weeks after billing.  I've moved all my domains now, so problem solved," he said.

"I know Microsoft will claim that they are giving people all kinds of notice because you are greeted with a disclaimer screen telling you to take action when you log into the OLSB management dashboard. Unless you are making updates to your website you have no reason to login and find the disclaimer, so I suspect there are a lot of users that haven't seen it," he added.

OLSB users: You've got a little more than a month left to make a move.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software, SMBs


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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  • I don't understand any of this???

    I am part of a small business. We switched to Office 365 last year, and we are very happy with the results. We simply use the service for its hosted exchange server. Office 365 is linked into each employee's Outlook program and it keeps our mail, contacts and calendar appointments in sync across computers and devices (Windows Phones).

    Our company had its website hosted externally prior to us migrating to Office 365, and we kept our website with our original host. I have not heard of OLSB before. Is there something here that we need to be concerned about?
    • nope. doesn't apply to O365 just OLSB (old hosting)

    • If you are not an OLSB customer

      this doesn't apply to you, as @TarHugger says below. OLSB was a MS service for Web site hosting/domain/creation. Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • The transition is too hard

    OLSB has a means of backing up websites into a file. For some reason this backup will not work foOffice 365 leaving me with a very long and hard cut paste recreation project. I don't understand why that MS does not allow OLSB users to use their backup as OLSB seems very similar to the new Office 365. Also Office 365 does not seem to have a way top back up. Otherwise I think we will be happy in our transtion to Office 365. It seem to offer a lot to us for the $$.
  • Thanks Microsoft!

    Microsoft formerly had an offering for Office Live of a free domain name and free hosting. My daughter took them up on this. She registered her domain name through Microsoft and then used their tools to create her non-profit web presence. Two years ago they contacted her and said that the domain name was no longer going to be free. She renewed it for $14.95. Now they've contacted her that they are discontinuing the entire service.

    We had Microsoft transfer the domain name to her control. They transferred it to Melbourne IT who was difficult to work with due to time zones and terrible VoIP.

    As others have mentioned there is really no way other than copy and paste to move the web site.

    I realize she got something for nothing but she was willing to transition to a for pay scenario but that wasn't offered.

    This experience makes me not want to use Microsoft for any services. I sure won't recommend them any more.
  • what can I say

    There products and services are 'Here today and gone tomorrow'/

    No point to rely on Microsoft, as eventually something you rely on will disappear.
    Even if you switch to 365 and it provides functionaliy for what you need it to do, its only temorarly here too and you will be faced with the same problem again.
    Busness needs something that is 'here to stay' not 'here to now but in the future uncertain' or 'here to mess you up'.
  • The clock is ticking

    It is worse than that! "Moving" a MOLSB site can't be done with "copy and paste" - I tried that, the HTML code is full of proprietary calls and link-backs. Only way was to recreate from scratch. I was on the phone to Australia for over an hour - rotten connection, hard to hear and understand. MelbourneIT is not prepared to help the folks being dropped by Microsoft. This is going to be a huge disaster!
    • Migration help

      I used Meritide, a Microsoft partner to migrate the site I administer for a homeowners association. They charge by the hour. It was $600 to move the site and they did some nice reorganizing of the site as well. Only hangup was with MelbourneIT. Terrible response times.
  • Cloud Visors Widget for Transferring OLSB to Office 365

    Well I just signed up for them to migrate my OLSB account to Office 365. So far pretty painless (except for $199 which is a bargain for me as do not want to even think of doing it myself). So after a few screens and input of some information, got message that says they are now copying my website and will send me an email when done and I can approve the new website and then say yes??
    ??. Up to 48 hours. They created my new account and say will transfer it seemlessly at a date of my choosing. Sounds great to me--almost too good as I am crossing my fingers and am thinking about going to church tomorrow night. I am actually one of those who want to migrate as I think the extra functionalities will be well worth the price. My LEGO engraving business depends on this site and just hope it works. The deal is that after the 6 months free is up, they charge you $3.99/ month for support. Which in the total scheme of things is really pretty reasonable and am more than willing to pay it to be able to get someone on the phone that I can understand if something goes wrong. I doubt very seriously if the fears of MS abandoning 365 are founded as it would be an incredible black eye and probably open for lawsuit. OLSB was a completely free service--365 is not of course. Will give an update in a couple of few days to let you know how it went.
  • Office Live Small Business Customer Abandonment - Microsoft Fiasco!

    > When Microsoft launched OLSB they offered us free domains - so we set up a couple of free domains!
    > Then a couple of years later they said we had to pay annual fees for these same "free domains"
    > Now a couple of years later Microsoft Office Live Small Business is to be abandoned!
    > They wanted to force feed us Office 365 or else move our "free domains" elsewhere!
    > Guess what - We moved our "free domains" elsewhere! But it took almost a month to do it!
  • Microsoft Loses Goodwill

    I tested recreating my web site from Microsoft Office Live Small Business to both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Sites and found that each would involve a great deal of manual effort.

    Since my web site uses tables extensively, which surprisingly seemed much better supported in the old Microsoft Office Live Small Business than in the new Microsoft Office 365, I decided to abandon Microsoft and go to Google for my web site.

    Microsoft has lost goodwill by not providing an automated transition from their old service to their new service.
  • Recommendations for alternate sites to use?

    I use OLSB for my website for a small side business and my website design needs are pretty simple but I would like it easy to design (web based) and to look professional. I looked at the directions on how to migrate over to Office 365 and it looks way too complicated. Any recommendations for other good sites or programs to use? I don't mind paying a reasonable monthly fee if need be.
  • Cloud Visor Update

    Well must say have been happy with Cloud Visor so far. They cloned my website and did all the background stuff such as getting contacts, email, etc., registered my new Office 365 account, sent me a preview of website for approval --which I did--and I have scheduled for the migration to take place this weekend. Well worth the money and painless so far. Fingers of course still crossed. Had on minor problem about getting my register info, but took care of that quickly and over the phone. I must say it is kind of nice to have real phone support. And from what they told me, their business model is for the small guy, like me. They only take on accounts with 20 or less 365 accounts. I got 3 or 4 years out of MS for free which I thought was incredible good deal and really do not mind paying the $6.00 per month (or the $9.99/month with additional Cloud Visor support). Looking forward to seeing how 365 works out. And am really confident that MS will not abandon it in my lifetime. They have invested way too much and in many ways it is the core of their online business strategy.
  • Free tool to help your migration!

    I do not think Cloud Visor has a widget. They probably use internal tools and a lot of students/people to do the migration.
    Here is a free tool to help your migration (currently migrates images and documents, still working on the pages transition):

    Good luck
  • Microsoft treats it's customers like dirt! Don't switch to Office 365!!

    I have been with (Microsoft Office Small Business) MOSB for about 4 years. I have over 300 pages on my free community website ( Now I have to find time to move all these pages! To make things worse, Microsoft is offering another domain called Office 365?! Why would anyone in their right mind even consider using Office 365? In a few years, Microsoft will just do the same thing to its Office 365 customers. DON'T USE OFFICE 365 OR ANY HOST PROVIDED BY MICROSOFT!!!!
  • Free tool to migrate OLSB site to Office 365
    For what it worth...
  • + Office 365

    I'm curious if everyone is familiar with how Archiving integrates with Office 365. If not, we will be running a webinar with a demo of this cloud-based archiving solution that brings e-discovery features to 365, something that the Archiving features of Exchange Online Plan 2 doesn't offer.

    Here's the link to it!
  • Great Website Design Co

    I have found an excellent Web Design and Maintenance Co. They are called . They are very a very friendly family run business that have great designs and great prices too. Cheapest I have seen. Check them out!! They can do anything!