Microsoft 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.