Small Business Lives Large
One of the nice things the Web gives small business is the ability to look
and act big. Something as seemingly simple as e-mail has changed the way the
little guys navigate the economy. With its recently released Office Live, Microsoft
is looking to capitalize on small companies' online ambitions with a set of
services that will help affordably present and manage their online business.
Despite the name, Microsoft Office Live has nothing to do with Word or PowerPoint
for the masses. The subscription-based services address specific business functions
to help automate small businesses, providing customers with such things as a
company domain name, tools to set up a Web site, corporate-branded e-mail and
IM accounts, and online storage. Office Live recently wrapped up a beta test
period involving 160,000 customers, from which Microsoft gleaned an enormous
amount of feedback.
One Microsoft executive insisted that Live offerings don't conflict with the
traditional on-site business software. Instead, the Live services fill small
business needs that are distinct from other types of customers' needs.
Flavors of Microsoft Office Live
Services include: Company domain name, Web site with 500MB
storage, site reporting tools, 25 company-branded e-mail accounts
(2GB storage each), IM, calendaring and Office Live adManager
Beta (to manage search advertising campaigns).
Office Live Essentials
Price: $19.95 per month
Same as Basics, but with two online business applications
(Office Live Business Contact Manager and online Workspaces
for 10 users), an additional 1GB of Web site storage, 50 company-branded
e-mail accounts and offline e-mail access in Outlook.
Office Live Premium
Price: $39.95 per month
Same as Essentials, but with more storage (2GB for Web site,
2GB for e-mail and 1GB for Workspaces), increased capacity
for 20 additional users and a set of Internet-based business
"Our fundamental message when it comes to Software as a Service and Live
Offerings will be around choice," says Satya Nadella, recently named corporate
vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Group.
The services are meant to be extensible so IT pros and partners can customize
them as needed. To that end, Microsoft published a developers' guide and other
tools for the Office Live platform last month.
Carolyn April is the executive editor of features for Redmond magazine.