by CIO Staff

Microsoft Office Live to Emerge from Beta Nov. 15

Oct 31, 20063 mins
Enterprise Applications

Microsoft’s Office Live service is set to go out of beta Nov. 15, and will eventually offer small businesses a chance to buy ads from rival Google and others, according to a Microsoft executive.

Office Live is Microsoft’s Web-based service aimed at giving small businesses a website as well as providing basic management, worker collaboration, accounting and CRM capabilities. The service also will be available in beta versions in France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom on Nov. 15.

Microsoft will also introduce a beta of a new service at that time, Office Live adManager, which lets users purchase online advertising for Microsoft’s and Windows Live Search properties, said Baris Cetinok, director of product management for Office Live. And in the next six months, the company also plans to add the ability to let users purchase ads for search engines from Google, Yahoo, and, he said.

“Small businesses want to be able to do sales and marketing wherever they want,” Cetinok said. “It’s hard for them to figure out how different search engines work. If we can bring these together in one place, they can do real-time results and price comparison … to find out which search engine sends them the most traffic.”

Of course, he added, Microsoft hopes Office Live adManager also will drive online advertising revenue for Microsoft. “We are going to be very aggressive,” he said.

So far, Microsoft has seen its online advertising revenue remain flat since it launched adCenter in the United States in May. But on its most recent quarterly earnings call last week, Chris Liddell, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, said the company was seeing progress in this area, though he was not clear on exactly what metrics the company is using to track that progress.

Office Live will be available in three versions: Office Live Basics, which is a stripped-down, free version; Office Live Essentials, which costs US$19.95 a month and can support up to 10 users; and Office Live Premium, which costs $39.95 a month and can support up to 20 users.

All three versions will include adManager, as well as another new service called Office Live Business Contact Manager, a CRM service, Cetinok said.

Another change to the full version of Office Live will be a simplified website design tool, Cetinok said. The new tool made it easier for users to bring custom HTML to their websites, something beta users requested, he said.

More than 160,000 businesses have tested Office Live so far.

Microsoft first launched its Live services plans in November 2005 under the direction of Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect.

-Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service (New York Bureau)

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This article is posted on our Microsoft Informer page. For more news on the Redmond, Wash.-based powerhouse, keep checking in.

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