Microsoft has laid out the next phase in its strategy for online services, offering a road map for new offerings that synthesise client, server and services software for people and businesses. These offerings will combine elements of client-based programs with software that runs large servers and new services delivered over the Internet and include a free online document sharing service.
The offerings expand Microsoft’s existing portfolio of software plus service solutions — solutions that weave together the best of software and Internet services to provide a new generation of rich, seamless experiences that are personalized, integrated and available online anywhere. This approach gives individuals and organizations greater freedom of choice in how they interact with the people, information and activities they value most.
Microsoft plans to deliver a wide variety of new solutions during the coming months under two key families of service offerings: “Live” and “Online".
“Live” services from Microsoft are designed primarily for individuals, business end-users and virtual work groups. Live offerings span entertainment, communication and productivity. These services emphasize ease of use, simplicity of access and flexibility, and are ideally suited for situations where people either don’t have access to professional technical expertise or don’t require high levels of system management.
“Online” services are for organisations with more advanced IT needs where power and flexibility are critical. Online services from Microsoft give businesses the ability to control access to data, manage users, apply business and compliance policy, and meet high availability standards while providing performance, scalability, enhanced security, management features and service-level capabilities to support mission-critical applications and systems. Microsoft is providing business customers with the flexibility to choose between traditional on-premise implementations, services hosted by Microsoft partners and now Online services that reside in Microsoft’s datacenters.
“This new era of connected computing is about empowering people and businesses to balance the power of the Internet with the rich interactivity and high performance of client and server software,” says Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “With these announcements, we are taking a significant step forward by combining our deep client and server software experience with our strong commitment to delivering flexible services offerings for our wide variety of customers and their needs.”
On Friday, Microsoft also launched the following:
* Microsoft Office Live Workspace, a new Web-based feature of Microsoft Office that lets people access their documents online and share their work with others;
* Microsoft Exchange Labs, a new research and development program for testing next-generation messaging and unified communications capabilities in high-scale environments;
* Continued customer and partner support for Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM;
* The renaming of the Microsoft Office Live hosted small-business service, a service dedicated to addressing key small-business pain points, including core IT services and sales and marketing services, to Microsoft Office Live Small Business; and
* Microsoft BizTalk Services, a building block service that enables developers to rapidly and cost-effectively build composite applications, to help enable greater cost efficiencies and thereby open up new business opportunities for enterprises of all sizes.
The Online offerings are available to any enterprise with 5 000 or more seats and include Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online and Microsoft Office Communications Online.
Office Live Workspace is among the first entries in the new wave of online services. Available at no charge, Office Live Workspace lets people do the following:
* Access documents anywhere. Users can organise documents and projects for work, school and home online, and work on them from almost any computer — even one not connected to the company or school network. They can save more than 1,000 Microsoft Office documents to one place online and access them via the Web;
* Share with others. Users can work collaboratively on a project with others in a password-protected, invitation-only online workspace, helping to eliminate version-control challenges when e-mailing drafts to multiple people. Collaborators who don’t have a desktop version of Microsoft Office software can still view and comment on the document in a browser; and
* Extend Microsoft Office. Users can easily connect to Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook on their PC via the Web.
Anyone can pre-register for the English language beta of Office Live Workspace today at www.officelive.com.