Microsoft is rushing to sign up several hundred UK channel partners over the next 12 months to sell its first dedicated small business offering.
The software giant has claimed Office Live – a hosted service aimed at firms with one to 10 employees – could become almost as important to Microsoft as its flagship Windows operating system.
Office Live allows small businesses to have a professional online presence without the expense of buying a server, setting up a complicated infrastructure and hiring technical staff to maintain it. Following six months of Beta testing, Office Live is now available in the UK and currently has 14 partners signed up to the official Office Live partner programme.
Tim Kimber, Microsoft’s UK Office Live product manager, said: “We’re now embarking on an official push to recruit partners and hope to sign up several hundred over the next 12 months. Microsoft partners involved in SharePoint are ideally placed to sell it because Office Live is built around SharePoint technology.”
The software comes in three versions: Basic, Essentials and Premium. The Basic version is free and gives users a domain name, 500 MB of web space and 25 email accounts.
“The Basic version provides a great opportunity for partners to get a foot in the door with customers,” said Kimber. “Once they have seen the benefits Office Live can bring, partners can then offer other services around it or even suggest an upgrade.”
Joe McDermott, managing director of ISV and Microsoft Gold partner, Solution Canvas, said: “Office Live is the perfect platform for us to develop bespoke applications. Our first offering is Justia – a legal practice management system built around Office Live. The legal market is our core focus at the moment, but we can easily change the template and revamp Justia to adapt it to another vertical.”
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