More details of Office Live

Details emerged this week of the three packages in Microsoft Office Live when it goes into beta shortly. But SMBs should look elsewhere for real value.
Written by Phil Wainewright, Contributor on

Registered beta testers have been told to get ready for the beta of Office Live, according to an internetnews.com story this week by Susan Kuchinkas. There will be three different packages of on-demand applications targeted at small businesses, she reports:

  • Microsoft Office Live Basics "provides domain-name registration, site-design tools, Web hosting, Web site traffic reports and a still-to-be-determined number of e-mail accounts."
  • Microsoft Office Live Collaboration "is a hosted version of Windows SharePoint. It lets a business create shared, password-protected collaboration sites. The offering includes online business applications to manage customer, project, sales and company information."
  • Microsoft Office Live Essentials "combines Office Live Basics and Office Live Collaboration, adding additional company e-mail accounts, enhanced access features, advanced Web traffic reports, and Microsoft Office FrontPage Web design software. "
When Microsoft first announced its on-demand intentions I said it would have to buy some existing players if it wants to have a credible offering. Judging by the motley ragbag of packages above, it clearly hasn't done so yet. The Basics package is just a website deal, indistinguishable from thousands of others already out there in the marketplace. Collaboration is just SharePoint server wheeled out once more as a shared service. And Essentials is the other two combined, with FrontPage thrown in. All of this has been tried by Microsoft before and largely failed. What makes the company think that rebranding any of it as Office Live will make a blind bit of difference?

The story goes on to discuss "a Craigslist-style local marketplace" called Windows Live Expo. "Users will be able to buy, sell, and communicate with the people in their local marketplaces or across the country." It will also link to communications services and an online contact management service. That sounds much more useful to small businesses than any of the Office Live packages. So perhaps the Live initiative will deliver some value to SMBs after all, provided they're prepared to dig their way past Microsoft's branding and segmentation to find the real pearls.

Editorial standards