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Microsoft Raises Stakes In Online Services

Still no Office though

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The company’s Exchange and SharePoint products up the stakes in the competition for businesses and their employees, to serve their technology needs with hosted services.

Microsoft’s response to the launch of Google Sites, aka the relaunch of their JotSpot acquisition, arrived with news of the opening of the Microsoft Online Services beta. The cynically minded might note it’s another opportunity for Microsoft to encourage more people to install its Flash competitor, Silverlight, as well.

Loading Silverlight lets one see a video of a guy and his dog playing out a metaphor for company desires to move ahead versus the IT department holding them back. System administrators will be grateful for the swipe, no doubt.

On to the services. The limited beta test of Microsoft Online Services revealed hosted options for Exchange Online (email and calendar), SharePoint (document collaboration and sharing), and Live Meeting. Microsoft touted participation from big firms like Coca-Cola and Ingersoll-Rand in a statement about the debut.

Exchange hosting is nothing new. Microsoft’s page on ‘How to Buy Exchange Services’ dates all the way back to March 2006. In a way, Microsoft’s entry into online services also provided the company with a rebranding opportunity.

Purchasing options vary for Microsoft Online Services, depending on whether or not a business currently has a Microsoft Software Assurance program in place. Those that do can purchase per-user licenses at a discount.

Weekend rumors of Microsoft possibly opening up the Office productivity suite, and major revenue contributor, to the Internet proved unfounded. As long as it’s a multi-billion dollar cash cow, we don’t see Microsoft responding to any perceived pressure that they need to put Excel and Word online.

Microsoft Raises Stakes In Online Services
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