Microsoft Upgrades Office Live Small Business

Microsoft has announced a range of upgrades for its oddly named Office Live Small Business service (odd because it doesn’t offer an online office suite).

The original Office Live was launched in February 2006 as a easy to use business focused hosting package that competes directly with Yahoo’s small business hosting service.

The new features include:

  • “Store Manager,” a hosted e-commerce service that enables users to sell products from their websites or on eBay ($39.95 per month)
  • Custom domain name and business e-mail is available to all customers for free for one year, with up to 100 email account each with 5 GB.
  • “Advanced Web design capabilities,” allows users to edit more of their sites inline
  • Support for Firefox 2.0 ed note: Microsoft calls this a feature :-)
  • Synchronization with Microsoft Office Outlook
  • E-mail Marketing module with up to 200 e-mails per month free during beta testing
  • Business applications are now included free to all customers (but still no office suite)

Other features include gadgets and improved adCenter integration.

When Michael first covered the service he wrote the following:

For a small company needing an informational website, it will be great. Given that the domain name, website building, hosting and email will all be free, this will be very attractive to small business.

It still holds true today, it’s a solid hosting package, and the free options are appealing. Although there is no shortage of hosting options in the market, these sorts of packages appeal to the less computer literate and the main competition here is Yahoo. Yahoo’s small business offering recently announced unlimited hosting, but packages start at $11.95, which is precisely $11.95 more expensive than Microsoft’s base level package. Couple that with the strong cross branding/ marketing with Microsoft Office and this is one space Microsoft will grow marketshare in, and likely at Yahoo’s expense.