Microsoft has launched the US version of its Office Live service, which offers hosted email and web hosting services to small businesses.
The software giant plans to release test versions of the service in the UK, France, Germany and Japan on 21 November.
Microsoft unveiled the web-based service last year and has been testing it as a beta for the past nine months. Office Live is aimed at small businesses looking to establish a web presence.
The basic package, which is free, allows businesses to register a domain name and set up a site.
More advanced packages, priced at $19.95 and $39.95, offer the ability to keep track of customer records online, collaborate on documents over the web, and implement key words for Microsoft's live.com and Windows Live Search pages.
To help promote the service, Microsoft has enlisted PC makers Toshiba and Sony, along with US electronics retailer Best Buy.
Toshiba and Sony will push Office Live by way of desktop links to the service pre-installed on laptops. Web tools included in the software will also link to Office Live.
Best Buy will offer the option to purchase the service with a new PC. Customers will receive a discounted rate of three months for the price of one when signing up through the retailer.
Best Buy's Geek Squad program will offer 24-hour support for the service.
Office Live is part Microsoft's Windows Live suite of web-based products which also include security, search, mapping and messaging services.
Microsoft launches Office Live in the US
By Shaun Nichols, vnunet on Nov 17, 2006 9:54AM