REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 15, 2006 — Microsoft® Office Live, a set of Internet-based services that help small businesses grow and manage their business online, is live today in the United States (http://www.officelive.com) and is available in a free beta version in France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom on Nov. 21, 2006. This new offering provides a wide range of opportunities for Microsoft Corp. partners and solution developers to tap into the most underserved segment of the IT market — small and home-based businesses — especially those with fewer than 10 employees, which represent nearly 20 million businesses in the United States, according to 2005 data from AMI Partners.
Office Live enables solution developers and service providers to cost-effectively drive revenue by targeting and acquiring new customers in the often untapped small-business segment. Partners in the retail and OEM segments can take part in pilot programs and influence the Office Live partner models for the future.
“After a successful beta period when we had more than 160,000 customers in the United States as well as more than 75 partners piloting our solution developer program, we want to expand the opportunity to all solution developers that are today targeting small and home-based businesses,” said Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president, Microsoft Office Live. “Our goal is to offer developers the opportunity to build customized solutions on top of Office Live to address the specific needs of the hundreds of millions of small businesses out there.”
“We are totally committed to partners’ success in this new program. As part of our Microsoft Partner Programs and infrastructure, we will support developers in training, developing, marketing and promoting their solutions to help them succeed in this new software-as-services industry.”
Response to Office Live has been positive; for example, CRN magazine, which gave Microsoft Office Live four out of five stars for channel rating and eight out of 10 for the overall Office Live product, wrote, “Microsoft is still providing enough programming freedom for VARs to build unique solutions.”
Beginning in January 2007, the first version of the Microsoft Office Live Marketplace will provide solution developers and service providers with an easy way to market their customized and industry-specific solutions to Office Live customers, as well as offer customers searching for services and solutions a simple way to find a relevant provider. Using partner feedback, the Marketplace will continue to evolve, further supporting solution developers and service providers to drive revenue from their Office Live business.
In addition, the team at Office Live is working closely with the Microsoft Live Partner Advisory Council to create even more opportunities for solution developers, service providers and partners.
Easy Build for Developers
In recognition of the important role of partners in addressing the specific needs of small businesses, Microsoft Office Live, built on Windows® SharePoint® Services 3.0, provides an open platform on which they can build customized or industry-specific software applications and deliver services for their customers. Three solution developers participated in a pilot program and have already built valuable small-business solutions on the Office Live platform: Qdabra Software, which streamlines business processes for small companies and teams to reduce IT complexity and cost; NPower Network, which provides the nonprofit community with a tool to manage their most important assets: their constituents and contributions; and Dinerware Inc., which delivers best-of-breed touch-screen systems for restaurants that are built on Microsoft technologies.
In addition, 75 solution developers worldwide are participating in the Early Adopter Program, and are building a wide variety of solutions to help meet the unique needs of small businesses. These partners include Noah Kaufman from New World Design, who built a solution that works with Office Live and enables small professional services businesses to monitor billable hours and expenses, quickly invoice clients, and track payments — all from one simple Web-based interface that works with other Office Live components.
The Microsoft Office Live Developer Guide and other tools to support partners in building services and solutions on the Office Live platform are available today at http://msdn.microsoft.com/officelive.
Easier Access for Customers to Microsoft Office Live
The Microsoft Office Live team has also expanded its relationship with Best Buy and its small-business-focused unit Best Buy for Business, and will complement the retail chain’s current set of Small Business Solutions by enabling customers to add Office Live services to other technology purchases in participating retail stores nationwide. In addition, Best Buy will provide targeted support to Office Live customers through the Geek Squad 24 Hour Computer Support Task Force. Office Live is also extending its relationship with OEMs, including Toshiba and Sony, that will offer small and home-based businesses access to Office Live from their notebooks and laptops as well as through relevant Web sites and online tools.
Microsoft will continue to invest in enabling the channel in this new era of services and launch additional pilots in the near future.
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