Microsoft to offer Office Live UK beta from November 15th

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mslivebeta.jpgMicrosoft have been beta testing their Office Live suite of web hosting and business tools in the US for a while now, and whilst they’re ready to shift to a fully working version on November 15th, other selected countries including Britain can take a peek when the beta starts to spread internationally on that date.

Office Live is a set of Internet-based services designed to meet the needs of small businesses who want an easy way to expand their web presence and gain access to collaborative business tools. It’s supposed to help attract new customers, generate repeat business and easily manage their business online.

Over 160,000 small businesses in the US tested the service and provided valuable feedback. Presumably Microsoft will seek to do the same in the UK as well sa France, Germany and Japan, given that there are differences in how businesses operate in different countries.

New features that will help small businesses with their sales and marketing needs include Office Live adManager Beta; integration with Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007; enhanced Web design tools and templates; additional storage space; additional company branded e-mail accounts and calendars; and the ability to chat online via text, voice or mobile phone with employees, customers and colleagues using their own company domain name with Windows Live Messenger. In addition, Office Live Business Contact Manager, a tool to help small companies manage business relationships in an organized and effective way, will be available in subscription-based Office Live offerings.

It’s all part of Microsoft’s ever-expanding ‘Live’ suite of applications that is set to appeal to both individuals and businesses. The key feature available free to everyone using Office Live is improved web site design tools featuring AJAX technology.

Microsoft Office Live Basics is completely free and offers a company domain name, a 500MB web site, advanced site reporting tools, 25 company branded email accounts, instant messaging, and calendaring via Live Mail. Extra features are available for a monthly subscription.

Could be a hit for those companies who don’t have the in-house skills or resources to manage their own online presence entirely from scratch.

Microsoft Office Live web site

Andy Merrett