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Microsoft Office Live Beta Is Going Live

Today Microsoft will release to testers first beta releases of three Office Live small-business subscription services.

Office Live is a family of add-on services designed to complement Microsoft Office, the same way that the growing stable of Windows Live services will extend Microsoft Windows.

The LiveSide.Net Web site on Feb. 13 posted details on Office Live Beta 1's availability, as well as some screen shots of the pending Office Live beta releases.

The Office Live beta bits will be downloadable by testers starting at 6 a.m. PST Feb. 15, Microsoft officials said.

As expected, Microsoft is unveiling test versions of three different Office Live offerings: Office Live Basics, Office Live Collaboration and Office Live Essentials. The trio of services will be supported by online advertising and should be commercially available by the end of 2006, Microsoft officials said.

According to LiveSide, "Beta testers will require a product key in order to access the beta program. ... As will be visible when the portal finally opens on Wednesday, Office Live Collaboration and Essentials are expected to be available from $29.95 once the beta finishes."

The target audience for all three families of Office Live services are small-business customers with 10 or fewer employees, "which typically lack in-house technical resources or the budget to keep an IT person on staff," according to Microsoft.

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