Office Live Beta Set to Go Live

The Microsoft Office Live beta is expected to go live any day now.

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The Microsoft Office Live beta is expected to go live any day now.

Office Live is not a hosted version of Microsoft Office. Instead, it is a set of software services Microsoft is developing as extensions to its shrink-wrapped Office product. Microsoft introduced the Office Live concept in November, at the same time as it rolled out its Windows Live strategy. Company officials said at that time to expect a first beta of Office Live early this year.

Microsoft sent invitations the first week of January to testers it had selected to participate in initial Office Live testing, according to the LiveSide Weblog—an independent site dedicated to tracking Microsofts Live efforts. The first Office Live beta is expected to be available for U.S. participants running Windows XP and Office 2000 or later versions of Microsofts desktop operating system and Office suite.

Microsoft is pitching Office Live primarily as a small-business play. From the initial descriptions of the service by Office Live team members last year, it sounds as if Microsoft will be repackaging a number of the small-business services the company initially marketed via its bCentral Web site and, later, its Microsoft Small Business Services Web site and marketing those as Office Live properties.