Microsoft takes Office Live out of beta

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Redmond (WA) - Microsoft today announced the final version of Office Live, an online productivity suite that assists small business in setting up websites, manage business tasks and purchase advertising on Live.com. The basic service offers free domain registration and free web hosting.

After a nine-month long beta run, Microsoft on Wednesday announced the final version of Office Live, which provides a first outline of the firm's Internet services vision. Other than the name may suggest, Office Live is not an extension of Word and Excel, but a service hosting package that makes it easier for small businesses to establish their presence on the Internet.

"Most small businesses lack IT expertise," said Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president for Office Live at Microsoft. "Office Live is a one-stop shop that levels the playing field for companies with 10 or fewer employees by providing software and services that make a big difference; Office Live can impact business growth and profitability. Small businesses that sign up for Microsoft Office Live will now find it easier and cheaper than ever before to build and manage their business online," he said.

Office Live is offered in three flavors, whereas the basic version is offered free of charge. Office Live "basics" enables the registration of a domain, 25 Email accounts, 2 GB of email storage, 500 MB of storage space for the website and 10 GB of data bandwidth per month. The package also includes a few simple tools such as a site designer utility, site statistics, Office Accounting Express 2007, the possibility to purchase keywords on Live.com and even email support.

For $20 a month, Microsoft adds 25 email accounts, 500 MB of website storage, 5 GB data transfer bandwidth, the new Live Contact Manager, AJAX-based site design tools, an opportunity to transfer an existing site, as well as support by phone. The Premium version is priced at $40 per month and ups website storage to 2 GB, the bandwidth to 20 GB as well as applications to track projects, customers and company information. Microsoft said that current beta users of Office Live will "gradually make the transition to the final release over the next several months."