In July, Ballmer sent his annual letter to Microsoft employees. In it, he mentioned that the MSN, Windows and Office teams have been working together on a number of Microsoft-branded, hosted services for small businesses. The services would help "smaller businesses and consumers to enhance security, lower costs, and improve the end-user experience in areas such as communication, collaboration and desktop management," Ballmer told employees.
Ballmer and other Microsoft execs hinted earlier this year that a blogging service, a personal information management service and security service(s) would be among the stable of the new hosted IT services.
And over the past two months, word seeped out about two of these services: MSNSpaces, Microsofts new blogging service that went to beta this month; and Microsoft Office Outlook Live, the soon-to-be-unveiled e-mail service that uses Hotmail as its back end.
But Microsoft is working on yet another hosted IT service that has yet to get ink, according to sources close to the company.
That service will likely be a hosted backup-and-restore service, designed to offer SOHO (small office/home office) and consumer customers the opportunity to have Microsoft back up their personal files on CD and/or DVD. Users also will be able to back up financial files, legal documents, digital photos, online music and home videos, and even put their most important files into a "digital safe-deposit box," hosted by Microsoft, sources said.
The hosted storage service will be available via subscription, and is set to go live in 2005, sources added.