Microsoft's web-based office product, called Office Live, is being released in beta today. Office Live will integrate with existing Microsoft Office products Jupiter analyst Joe Wilcox has the early word on the release. He firstly points out that Office Live is in no way "a hosted version of Microsoft Office". That's true, but personally I expect Microsoft (and probably Google) to eventually release a fully functional Web Office suite. It's just a matter of time. Note that it won't just be a replica of desktop office, because it'll need to be native to the Web. And I'm talking years not months, unless Google comes out with such a product sooner than expected (which is always a distinct possibility with Google). I'm going to write more on that subject in the near future, but for now let's focus on what IS in Office Live. Here are the main features:
- Basic e-mail and calendaring
- Collaboration functions (similar in nature to SharePoint Portal Server)
- Project management functionality
- Domain name and Web site ("security-enhanced and "affordably managed and maintained by Microsoft", according to the current Office Live homepage)
- Document management tools
- Customer relationship tools
All of these things will integrate in some way with existing Microsoft Office programs - and we'll probably see more integration when Office 12 is released later this year.
Office Live is targeting small businesses in the US only (less than 10 employees). As Wilcox pointed out, those kinds of small businesses would be "highly unlikely to run server software products like Exchange, SharePoint or Project." So Office Live fills an unmet demand in that sector and some of those customers will in time upgrade to Microsoft's full server software products.