Microsoft Re-Brands Office Live, But Little Changes

Office Live Small BusinessMicrosoft today announced that its Office Live service has been re-branded to Office Live Small Business. 

If you recall, Office Live was introduced in 2006 as the service where you can promote your business online by registering a domain name and building a template-based website for free (Basic service).  There are two upgraded levels (Essentials and Premium) which layer on additional online services.  For a monthly fee you can add 1GB to 2GB of online storage space, your own domain-branded email accounts, calendaring, contact management and other services.  

The name has always been confusing. The use of “Office” implied that you could use your Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Outlook) online, when in fact the offering was NOT about the Office software at all. 

Well, now, Microsoft has thrown another branding monkey wrench into the mix, by introducing an additional new service called Office Live Workspace, which is in fact billed as the “online companion” to the Microsoft Office suite. 

So, to recap, what we have now are two different offerings, both using the “Office Live” brand:

Office Live Small Business

Office Live Workspace

What does this mean to you?  For the moment, not a whole lot.

It just means that if you are among the 450,000 subscribers of the original Office Live, it’s now called Office Live Small Business.  Aside from the name change, it’s status quo for now. 

As to the newest offering, Office Live Workspace, it is so early that I don’t know anyone who’s even used it yet.  It’s in limited beta, not a full release. Its announcement triggered what has now become the usual predictable debate about Microsoft’s pace in taking Office online. Unless you are an early adopter eager to be a beta tester, you can safely ignore Office Live Workspace for the present.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

4 Reactions
  1. I’m not sure if you can answer this, but what is the difference between Microsoft Office Live Small Business and Google Apps. Offhand, it seems like Google Apps is the better choice because you can create documents, store up to 10gb (I think you pay for that) and a lot more. Any thoughts on that?

  2. Hi Ivana, good question. The two are completely separate animals, further complicated by the new Microsoft Office Workspace. Let me try to differentiate all three:

    – Microsoft Office Live Small Business is mostly a tool to help small businesses create a website and a few other online capabilities, such as online storage, email addresses branded with your domain URL, calendaring, etc. Today it has nothing to do with the Microsoft Office software suite itself. It’s more akin to the offering of say,, where you can register a domain name, build a simple website, host your website, set up email addresses using your domain address (instead of using a Hotmail or Comcast email address), etc.

    – The newly-announced Microsoft Office Workspace is being billed as a way to offer some online collaboration ability for the widely-used Microsoft Office software suite (Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint). However, the description of it strongly suggests that Microsoft is stopping far short of making it possible to access and use Word, Outlook, etc. 100% online. Instead, it will offer some limited online functionality/accessibility.

    – Google Apps is a competitor to Microsoft Office. But instead of being software that you install on your computer, Google Apps is delivered as an online “software as a service.” To date the most widely used portion of Google Apps is GMail, the popular online email service (which I use in addition to Outlook, for specific purposes). Docs, calendars and spreadsheets compete with Microsoft Office. However, they are not as feature-rich as their Microsoft Office counterparts — they don’t meet my needs, for instance. The other drawback is having to be online to use them, which is an issue for me, as I usually do not work on spreadsheets or Word documents online. Many of the documents or spreadsheets I create are confidential and I especially am careful when traveling and accessing documents using public WiFi. The Google Talk portion of Apps is a competitor to Skype and various instant messaging applications.

    Anybody else care to weigh in and give your views of how these offerings all stack up?