Marshall Kirkpatrick published screenshots of Office Live Workspaces, Microsoft’s coming online Office collaboration platform. Check out Read/Write Web for all of them.
Search Engine Watch reported that Microsoft has added Search Engine Marketing to the services Office Live businesses can use to help grow their websites. Customers will be able to choose from three levels of service, starting with online training and working up to full service campaign management, provided through a partnership with The Search Agency.
The first service, TSA Learn, consists of three online training modules that teach the essentials of SEM and search engine optimization (SEO). Next is TSA Launch, a selection of more than 20 one-off, a la carte SEM and SEO services. For example, a user can fill out a questionnaire about their business and get a list of potential keywords to use in their search campaign, or enter their existing keywords and get a list of expanded keywords to consider. The third offering is TSA Grow, which is a full-service option where The Search Agency manages all search marketing activities for the subscriber.
Microsoft unveiled another portion of its Office Live web-based companion to Microsoft Office; Office Live Workspaces. While it isn’t a web-based Office Suite, Workspaces adds a lot of free online functionality to Office. You get to store over a thousand of your documents online and access them from anywhere (no emailing yourself or carrying around a Flash drive anymore) and collaboratively view and edit your documents with anyone you invite.
The collaborative features are designed to erase the only real advantage Google’s Docs has, letting you work with others on your documents in real-time, instead of emailing around documents and then going through the “fun” of merging changes. Files can be opened and saved to Workspaces directly from inside Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and Outlook events, contacts and tasks can be synced to the cloud.
All in all, it sounds like a great addition to Office, and it will be completely free (though it may be ad-supported). Sign up for the beta now so you can get in soon. The beta is supposed to launch in about a month.
Some perspective: While Google Docs is free and has collaboration and online storage, now you have Office, which is not free, getting collaboration and online storage. One way to truly remove any advantage of Google’s? Take the free version of Microsoft Works that we hear might be coming, and make it work with Office Live Workspaces as well. Do that and what’s left for Google?
Todd Bishop has a good explanation of what Workspaces is not.
Microsoft and MasterCard are teaming up for a free webcast-based Office Live Seminar series, designed to help small businesses get practical advice from business leaders on how to get the most out of their business. Sessions are being held all month, and include sessions on franchising, videoconferencing/webinars, taking risks, women-run businesses, user-generated marketing, and how to deal with much bigger competitors.
Participants can register in a sweepstakes that, every time they use their MasterCard between now and June 30, they get an entry to win $100,000, half for their business, and half for personal use.
300,000 subscribers have signed onto Microsoft’s Office Live, according to Joe Wilcox. Joe has a whole bunch of information in his article, including:
- There are major updates coming in the spring and early summer.
- The update will include domain redelegation, which allows businesses to point their own domains at Office Live, and run the Office Live service on their own domain just as they would with a domain from Microsoft. Microsoft previously let you transfer ownership of a domain to MS, which could take weeks and had a failure rate of over 40 percent. Now, you’ll be able to bring your own (if you don’t mind paying for it, since Microsoft will give you a free one), meaning you can use cool top-level-domains (like .sh and .at), or domains you already own.
I wonder, can you point a subdomain at Office Live, and run it as a portion of an existing website. the features in Office Live are pretty useful, even to those who already run website.
- The are also working on private registration of domains, to protect user info from spammers.
- Best Buy is going to start offering Office Live sales and service.
- The Office Live Marketplace is now showing products developed for Office Live.
Got an email from Microsoft letting me know about the Office Live upgrades coming this month. When the upgrade happens, they warned me, my free beta account would migrate into a paid Office Live Premium account, and my credit card would be immediately charged $39.95. Oh boy…
If you are an Office Live Essentials subscriber, you will automatically be moved to the new Office Live Premium service. This will allow you to retain the online Business Applications that were included in the Office Live Essentials Beta. Once you have been successfully moved to the new Office Live you will be need to agree to the new service agreement upon signing in to regain access to your account. Your credit card will be charged $39.95 for the first month’s subscription. You have 30 days to decide whether you want to continue with Office Live Premium. If you switch to another Microsoft Office Live offering or cancel within that 30 days, we will credit the full $39.95 back to your credit card.
Big mistake. Microsoft is not considering the thousands of technology enthusiasts who signed up for Office Live just so they could say they checked it out, or the few who were looking for free domain names. Those people may ignore the emails from Microsoft, or the emails may even be going to a junk email address, and they will never know about the charge until they see it on their credit card (at which point it would be too late to get a refund).
Office Live Premium has not yet launched, and no one has been charged yet, although word is we can expect the changeover next week. Microsoft still has time to fix this. They need to make it so that the system doesn’t charge anyone who doesn’t sign in to their account, and deleted inactive accounts in a few months. Users who do sign in should be given 30 days to migrate, warned every time they log in, and charged only when the month is up.
Anything less than that, and you are going to have a lot of angry users, and a lot of chargebacks. Please Microsoft, change this before you regret it.
More than 160,000 small businesses tested Office Live during the beta program, providing important feedback that Microsoft has incorporated into the upcoming release. 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 Liveâ„¢ 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.
The final release has one cool new feature: A Live version of Business Contact Manager, “which enables a business to organize accounts, contacts and sales opportunities from a single online location”. Office Live features the most amazing AJAX-based website creation tools I have ever seen, putting similar features from Google and others to shame.
Amazingly, the Basics version of Office Live is still free, even after beta. Office Live Basics features a free domain name, a 500 megabyte website, 25 Office Live email accounts (each with 2 gigabytes of storage) with calendaring, IM through your corporate email account names, all the powerful webdesign tools of Office Live, and a Microsoft Office Live adManager Beta for managing ad campaigns on Windows Live Search.
Office Live Essentials costs $19.95 a month and ups it to 1 gigabyte of storage, 50 email, calendar and IM accounts, plus online workspaces for 10 users with up to 500 megabytes of storage space, offline access through Outlook and Windows-Mobile, and two extra powerful online business applications. Offile Live Premium is $39.95 a month, goes up to 2 gigabytes of storage, 20 additional workspaces with 1 gigabyte of storage, and extra automating tools.
LiveSide notes that Microsoft is relaunching Office Online on November 13, and that any web-based Office suite won’t be anytime soon, maybe two generations down the line. Mary Jo Foley notes that Microsoft has delayed Office Live Collaboration, not releasing it this month.
InfoWorld reports that Microsoft is planning on adding some collaboration features to the Office Live website, in order to fulfill a need for small businesses that can’t buy the expensive Enterprise edition of Office 2007. The features will tie into the Small Business edition of Office 2007, bringing lesser, but still effective, collaboration to small businesses. We can only hope that Microsoft plans on bringing this service to all of the “cheaper” editions of Office 2007, since Google already offers word processing and spreadsheet collaboration for free via its Docs & Spreadsheets.
Office Live will for example host some of the capabilities of Microsoft’s Office SharePoint collaboration server, that will enable small businesses to share documents with business associates, Capossela said. Office SharePoint Server 2007 helps organizations gain better control and insight over their content, streamline their business processes, and access and share information, according to Microsoft.
The current focus of Office Live is on small businesses, the segment that is likely to find these services more valuable, but Microsoft is also adding Office Live services that will help students and home users share information with others, Capossela said.
(via Download Squad)
IPWalk has found that Office Live has now registered over 60,000 domain names, and counting. That’s a pretty sweet pace for a beta service with relatively little publicity, and represents a pretty good start. Considering Office Live, with its full-features web design system, free domain name and email accounts (completely free in the basic package), all puts anything Google or Yahoo offers to shame, when Microsoft puts the finishing touches on this service, it could wind up pretty popular.
Here’s something interesting: Office Live gives you a free domain, but what if you just want to take Microsoft’s kindness and use the domain for your own purposes? MS isn’t going to help you with a simple option to change the nameservers, but they did do two things good enough that you can do it yourself: They registered the domain through Melbourne IT, not by themselves, and they register all the domains in the name of the Office Live user.
That means you can contact Melbourne IT’s San Francisco office (510.595.2003), register an account with them, add the domain to your account, unlock it, and change the nameservers. Tada! Free domain from Microsoft, at least for one year.
This solution was written by Bob Henry over here, but he also says:
Thanks Microsoft! Their product rules, and it’s great to see they are
willing to give back to their users
I couldn’t have put it better myself. It’s nice and all that we are getting all these great web services, but more companies need to understand that holding onto our data only makes their services harder to use. The more open you are, the more we’ll want to sign up with you. Microsoft could have done more here, but at least they didn’t do less.
Microsoft has announced a significant investment in DeepMetrix, a web analytics firm with 15 years of experience behind it. The plan is to integrate DeepMetrix’s web analytics into programs like Microsoft AdCenter, Windows Live Search, Office Live, MSN Spaces, and other MS products.
DeepMetrix makes a number of different software applications, including graphical bulletin boards. But what most attracted Microsoft is its feature that provides real-time information about the traffic visiting a Web site, details Web operators greatly benefit from knowing.
There’s talk that Microsoft is trying to compete with Google Analytics, but more likely it is just realizing that it has a lot of its users and customers need powerful web analytics, and an investment in DeepMetrix was the easiest and cheapest way to provide it. Any company dealing in the sort of web services Google and Microsoft provide needs analytics software, and it makes more sense to pay for it than hope to develop a world-class solution in a few short months.
(via Mary Jo Foley)
Want a free domain name? World-class website creation tools? A small but decent amount of free web storage and bandwidth? Well, Office Live is now open to everybody, for free while in beta. They’ll register a domain name for you, and, with the Office Live Essentials package, you’d get 50 email accounts, 50 megabytes of space and 25 gigabytes of bandwidth.
More importantly, you get to try out Office Live’s site creation tools. If you found Google Page Creator lacking, you’ll be stunned at how much more powerful this is. Sure, there are rough edges, but its still one of the broadest web apps I’ve seen.
I’ve been in the International Convention Center in Ghent all day to attend the Microsoft Developer & IT Pro Days 2006 event and I must say I was pretty amazed. I met a lot of interesting people and spent quite some time networking in between the sessions. The Microsoftees really turned me on with their fancy things and the new interfaces that were shown for Office 12 (or Office 2007, whatever you want to call it) have left me wanting for more. There’s a second day too, and I’ll return there tomorrow – which by now is only three hours away.
First session I attended was the 2007 Office System Overview, which was pretty amazing. I really like the way Microsoft redesigned the user experience and it’s a big improvement. The contextual menu’s, the semi-transparent floater (mini-bar) when you select text in Word 12, the shrunken navigation menu… it’s going to be so much fun to use this, I can hardly wait to get it.
This session was very commercial and glanced through the new things a bit too fast, but it was clearly intended to be a ‘showcase session’ for people who wanted to get a first look & feel experience. I was pretty amazed.
So, then there was lunch… and I met Maarten Schenk from SixApart who was wondering around foodlessly. We talked a bit until he had to go home to be productive and all that. Too bad he couldn’t stay. Apparently we have a shared friend, Jonas from Combell who is thinking about starting a blog platform. I hope that works out great for both of them. Clearly, Jonas has chosen the right person to handle this, so I’m pretty confident things will turn out to be very promising.
The Next session was the one that I liked best today, it was called: Office System: Introduction to the Programmable Customization Model for the 2007 Office System User Experience. Hans Verbeeck, a Developer Consultant in the EMEA .NET Platform Evangelism Group, really brought some good vibrations in the room. He is responsible for assisting the Visual Basic Developer Community in the move to Visual Basic .NET and focused on one of the benefits of the new UI. For the first time in many years, Microsoft has changed the user interface of the major Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access). The biggest progress here is that developers can customize and extend the UI, using a very declarative XML-driven model.
The session showed how you can build document-level and application-level UI customizations. This session described how the markup interacts with DLL-based code, and provides guidance for migrating existing solutions and developing new ones.
In this session Hans totally captured the audience with a presentation that ran like a train. Smooth, solid as a rock and super fast. He started with an evaluation of the Word interfaces starting from Word 1.0 (1989) with only 2 toolbars and running to the bloated Word 2003 version with 31 toolbars and 9 task panes. It has become obvious that the users have lost track of the meaning of all the options and that the need for a slimmed down version of the UI was urging. So Hans took us through the new Word interface, showing off the new features in detail, focussing on the groups (no more chunks, please) in the ribbon which can be edited, the mini-bar that semi-transparently pops up when you select text and the ribbon itself that changes contextually.
The mini-bar was originally called ‘the floaty’, but apparently a floaty is something that drifts around in a swimming pool, which really doesn’t need to be drifting around there. So it became mini-bar, because ‘floaty’ would make it seem a bit smelly.
When you insert a table, the contextual menu changes and shows some possibilities you can select to change the appearance. Hoovering the list instantly changes the source, displaying in real-time how the changes would look like if applied. Same goes for text editing options and styles. The instant previews are possibly the coolest thing a standard user could encounter. It would decrease the use of the ‘undo’ button with 80%, no doubt.
Here’s what the famous ribbon looks like
Another super fine feature is that the entire Office environment is XML based and the you can change a Word 12 document (for instance) to a .zip by simply changing the extension. The document then transforms into a compressed file which contains all the data, the styles etc in XML format. The document becomes very portable and transparent. You can easily tag the file, making future searches a lot less complicated and you can customly edit every piece of the code, adding or removing whatever you feel like. Rebuilding the document is done by changing the extension to .docx. The XML feature also allows you to create application ribbon extensions that load at runtime, in the entire Office environment (in every app, from Access to Word)
Hans also showed off the Excel 12 and ‘OMG’ the me-wantee feeling took over. You type in some data in the row like ‘client name’, ‘product name’, ‘price’ and ‘amount’. Then you enter a few clients and fill in the products. You select the cells and instantly turn them to a worthy table which you can then change with the same styled contextual menu with the real-time displayed possibilities. Another cool thing is that the complicated Excel formulas have become far more obvious. Adding a column for ‘totals’ for example can easily be done by right-clicking (I think) and then selecting the ‘insert formula’ thing (could be he used a shortcut, it happened too fast). The formula no longer is based on the ‘Cell X*Cell Y’ but can be replaced by the title of the column, in this case ‘price’*'amount’. That makes things very accessible to users that used to be frightened by the mathematical approach Excel used to have.
The new Word 2007 lets you save a file as .pdf, so you no longer need to rely on third-party software for that.
Another find thing is the transitional column header. In the previous versions of Excel, you always needed to freeze the title row so you could still see, when you were reading stuff below row 50, and still know what the hearders of the columns were. In Excel 12, as soon as you scroll down and the title row goes off-screen the cells outside the spreadsheet (A, B, C,…) will automatically display the name you’ve given to the title cells. Very nifty !
Next thing in the demo was Powerpoint, which became even more easy to use. The menu looks a lot like Word, and Hans played around a bit wih the IGC graphics. Very attractive, very customizable, Highly adorable.
Presentation up for download, .ppt (1.50MB)
Like I said, this presentation was the best I’ve seen, and Jan from u2u (the coder who showed the XML features on the spot) really impressed me with his knowledge and fastness. That guy is brilliant. Absolutely stunning, the way he juggled with the code!
Third session I attended was the Live Communications Server 2005 in Close Up, but FrÃ©dÃ©ric from Digipoint ( who arrived at slide number 7 or 8 ) and me ran out of that one because it was really boring and Ilse Van Criekinge from Azlan who presented it was just reading the slides and talked way too silent to actually grab our attention. The first ten minutes or so, she explained what instant messaging was and what you could do with it, needless to say I wasn’t really shocked nor impressed. After 20 slides we threw in the towel. Filed under boring.
Presentation up for download, .ppt (8.31MB !?)
So we waited for the Atlas presentation, Microsoft’s ASP.net 2.0 take on Java & AJaX. Impressive. Good stuff and very powerful. I did, however, expected a take that would be more implementable for regular web designers the way Java and AJaX are. Instead we got to see a drag and drop show for Visual Studio 2005. The results were quite fine-tuned and there’s a lot of potential in this standard-to-be. We just didn’t get to see it. It was like we only saw the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps the strenght of the product is within the fact it is so easy to understand and so easy to implement. Maybe we were waiting for the wrong thing. Maybe you don’t have to hard-code it. Maybe it’s so easy to use we kind of missed the point because we were expecting a difficult solution?
Atlas is a package of new Web development technologies that integrates an extensive set of client script libraries with the rich, server-based development platform of ASP.NET 2.0. Atlas enables you to develop Web applications that can update data on a Web page by making direct calls to a Web server â€” without needing to round trip the page. With Atlas, you can take advantage of the best of ASP.NET and server-side code while doing much of the work in the browser, enabling a richer user experience.
ASP.NET Atlas will make it dramatically easier to develop richer web experiences because there’s a higher developer productivity, because its great ease of authoring and maintenance and its seamless programming model integration. Atlas works everywhere. That’s exactly what we were shown, illustrated with the Live Local maps and the interactive toy car sightseeing map and Visual Earth I blogged about recently. This is something to keep an eye on. Atlas is going to be very big. No. It’s going to be huge !
Presentation up for download, .ppt (1.48MB)
At this time, Luc Van Braekel arrived at the scene. Of course, important people almost always show up ridiculously late to make a noticed entrance. The guy at the wardrobe thought Luc was joking when he offered his jacket for safekeeping, since the event only lasted for another hour and a half. Luc actually had to go ‘complain’ at the Microsoft people to ask them if they could ask the guy to please put away his jacket. To thank the man, Luc took his picture which he clearly did not like. I think if the dude had a knife or a pair of scissors he would have cut the jacket to shreds and pieces.
So, the threesome we were now went back to the main room to attend the ending keynote by Rob Creemers, a Dutch trendwatcher. The show was awesome. His presentation was called “The Networked Society”, and it was incredibly fast-paced. It was stuffed with quotes, press headers, pictures and videos and blasted through 50 years of communication, IT and development within the hour (and a bit). I was blown away by the amount of data he fed the audience and captured by his enthusiasm. Luc has written a good review of the entire keynote if you’re interested in another good article.
To see all the presentations of the entire day, check here on the event website. They’ve already listed the sessions that will be organized tomorrow (in a few hours, that is)
Here are some pictures I took during the day:
Microsoft has developed a Skype-style free internet voice service for mobile phones that City analysts believe could wipe billions off the market value of operators such as Vodafone.
The service is included in a mobile version of Microsoft Office Communicator due to be released this year. It will take the form of a voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) application that allows Office users to make free voice calls over wi-fi enabled phones running Windows Mobile software. It uses the internet as a virtual phone network as well as accessing e-mail, PowerPoint and other Office applications.
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer dropped his bombshell at the mobile operatorsâ€™ annual 3GSM show in Barcelona last week. The significance of his remarks was missed because of his effusive and eccentric delivery.
This is so typically Microsoft. Once again, they’re not the first player in the market, but they’ll come up with some crazy all-in tool that wipes out many small players, possibly to then take on the major free VoIP services. I can’t wait to test this out. Definitely to be continued !
Office Live, contains three products, all of which are free during beta, one of which will still be free afterwards. Basically, there are two different products:
- Microsoft Office Live Basics – website hosting, with a free domain name, 30 megabytes of storage, 10 gigabytes of transfer a month, website design tools, basic web analytics, five email accounts with two gigs of storage and ten megabyte file sizes. Customer support is by email. Will continue be free
- Microsoft Office Live Collaboration – 50 megabyte shared workspace for ten users, with “more than 20 applications for managing customers, employees, projects, and critical business data”. Starts at $29.95 a month after beta, support via email and phone.
And one product that combines the two and more:
- Microsoft Office Live Essentials – website hosting, with a free domain name, 50 megabytes of storage, 25 gigabytes of transfer a month, website design tools, FrontPage support, advanced web analytics, fifty email accounts with two gigs of storage and twenty megabyte file sizes, as well as 50 megabyte shared workspace for 10 users with “more than 20 applications for managing customers, employees, projects, and critical business data”. Starts at $29.95 a month after beta, support via email and phone.
Here’s a non-PDF comparison chart. To sign up, you need to request a product key, and if your business is chosen, you’ll get your key within 2-3 weeks.
Microsoft has released some screenshots (click to enlarge slightly):
Office Live Customer Manager, which lets you track accounts, contacts and business opportunities:
Dashboard for the online Business Applications with tabs for customers, projects, sales, employees and company information.
A mini-version of Microsoft Project and allows users to track projects, milestones, tasks and any outstanding issues in near-real time.
Office Live web analytics:
Sample created website:
Just got this (non-confidential) email informing me to expect an Office Live beta very soon.
Microsoft Office Live is just around the corner.
Whether you asked to be part of our beta late last year, or just last week, we want
to thank you for your patience. We’ve been working hard to build these exciting new services. We trust you’ll find them worth the wait.
What is Microsoft Office Live?
MicrosoftÂ® Office Live consists of three different packages of online services, each designed with the small business owner in mind, that deliver remarkable new ways to grow and run your business online.* The best part – it’s all FREE during beta.**
Microsoft Office Live Basics Domain name, Web hosting, company e-mail and more
With Microsoft Office Live Basics you can start by claiming your own domain name (for example, www.northwindtraders.com) and, using our easy Site Designer tool, get a professional Web site up and running in minutes. Web traffic reports let you manage your own business Web site without being a Web expert. Company-branded e-mail accounts that match your business domain (for example, email@example.com) helps give your company the professional image
Microsoft Office Live Collaboration Shared Sites and online business applications
Microsoft Office Live Collaboration is ideal for any business where ongoing information sharing and collaboration are essential. Create your own Shared Sites to access and share information – even when you’re on the go – using your company’s own password-protected Web site.^ We also include a variety of online business applications so you can easily manage your customer, project, sales and company information, all in one place.
Microsoft Office Live Essentials Web hosting, company e-mail, Shared Sites and more. With Microsoft Office Live Essentials, you get all the benefits of Office Live Basics and Office Live Collaboration, and more. Additional company e-mail accounts with enhanced access features, advanced Web traffic reports, and Microsoft Office FrontPageÂ® software support provide an all-in-one, comprehensive solution for growing and managing your business online.
How will participants join the beta?
Soon we’ll be e-mailing invitations to qualified beta registrants. The invitations
will include information on where to go to sign-up, along with a unique product key
that lets you access our beta services. So stay tuned for future e-mails from your
Microsoft Office Live Team.
Again, thanks for your patience and interest in the Microsoft Office Live beta.
Your Microsoft Office Live Team
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