Microsoft aims small
An online presence is now as important for a small, fast-growing company as it is for a large corporate and, in recognition of this need, Microsoft has launched Office Live in the UK. It gives businesses the chance to design a website for free.
The service is aimed at businesses with one to ten employees. Baris Cetinok, global head of Microsoft Office Live, says: ‘There is something like 50-70 per cent growth year-on-year in the small business search engine market for their products. We believe this is the perfect time to launch a service like this in the UK.’
Office Live will, Cetinok explains, address the web-based needs of these businesses by providing them with their own domain name, a Microsoft-hosted website, design tools and company-branded email addresses.
Launched in the US in a Beta test mode at the beginning of the year, Office Live will now also be available in France, Germany and Japan. As with the US, the service will initially go through a Beta phase – probably until spring or summer 2007 in the UK. After this, it remains free but there will be a cost to use extra, premium features.
After conducting research and focus groups in different countries, Cetinok says it soon became evident small businesses are crying out for this kind of service: ‘The reason we chose to target this group is that it is actually the backbone of the US economy. They represent close to 90 per cent of employment in the country. They are the entrepreneurs who keep the economy alive.’
He adds: ‘Not only that, they are probably the most technologically under-served group. This means they either have to use consumer technologies for their businesses or they have to take technologies from enterprises and fit it into their environment.’