Microsoft Corp. has announced it will move its software off of the hard drive and onto the Internet with the introduction of Windows Live and Office Live. In doing so, once again Microsoft will force a shift in the way companies function.
Officials said the new offerings combine the power of software plus services and are compelling enhancements to the Windows and Office products. In particular, Windows Live helps bring together all the elements of an individual's digital world while Office Live helps small companies do business online.
During a recent briefing for media, Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, and Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's CTO, demonstrated these new offerings for the first time.
Windows Live (available for beta testing at www.live.com) appears to be an upgrade and integration of existing products available on services such as MSN.com, including e-mail, messenger, virus and computer protection and access to favorite Web sites and information.
With Office Live, Microsoft intends to give smaller companies -- typically those with fewer than 10 employees -- access to business software more commonly used by large enterprises. A beta version of Office Live will be released for testing in the U.S. on an invitation-only basis in early 2006, officials said.
"These new offerings demonstrate how software is evolving through the power of services in ways that enable more dynamic and relevant experiences for people," Gates said. "Our goal is to make Windows, Office and Xbox further come alive for our customers at work, home and play."
Office Live offers a new set of Internet-based services for growing and managing a business online. Designed to help companies establish an online presence, automate key internal and external business tasks, and collaborate with employees, partners and customers, the initial Office Live services can be used independently but also integrate with Microsoft Office programs, including Outlook, Excel, Office Live Meeting and Office Small Business Edition. Over time, the scope of Office Live services will expand, officials said.
"Our dream is to deliver a seamless experience where all the technology in your life and business comes together in a way that 'just works' for you," said Ozzie. "Seamless experiences put people and the things they want to accomplish at the center, with technology easily and transparently connecting them to the people, devices and information that matter most."