Microsoft is sticking to its plan to shut down its Office Live Small Business (OLSB) suite of cloud-based services on Monday, even though it seems many customers are either unaware of the deadline or are having difficulties migrating.
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It's unclear how many OLSB customers remain oblivious to the suite's impending shutdown. OLSB is used primarily for email communications and website hosting.
Microsoft still plans to start dismantling OLSB after midnight U.S. Pacific Time on Tuesday, when it will start taking down OLSB-hosted websites, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed.
However, Microsoft will keep operational the Windows Live Hotmail custom email addresses hosted by the service for six months, she said via email.
Microsoft will also provide an online form that OLSB customers who miss today's deadline can fill out to recover lost website data, she said.
It's not clear when Microsoft decided to keep the email accounts active for six more months and to offer the website data-recovery form. The decisions may be a sign that Microsoft is aware that a significant number of OLSB customers will not transition in time.
Microsoft declined to estimate what percentage of the OLSB customer base has migrated away from the service already and what percentage remains on the service.
Microsoft first announced its intention to close OLSB about 18 months ago and launched the suite's replacement, Office 365, in June of last year. Customers also have the option to migrate to non-Microsoft email and website hosting providers such as GoDaddy.
"We're communicating directly with OLSB users via email, the OLSB community, the OLSB website and through notifications in the service to help them transition to Office 365 or another provider," the Microsoft spokeswoman wrote.
Microsoft has an online transition center for OLSB, where it published, among other things, a transition guide for customers willing to do the migration manually.
Several Microsoft partners are also providing migration services and tools. One of them is Lucid Pointe, based in Stamford, Conn.
Lucid Pointe has been providing OLSB migration services since the launch of Office 365, on whose implementations it specializes, said Robert Clark, managing principal at the company.
However, the demand for OLSB migration services began to pick up considerably at the beginning of March of this year, he said via email.
So far, Lucid Pointe has provided migration services to "dozens" of OLSB customers, all of them transferred to Office 365, he said. Lucid Pointe fees vary depending on the nature of the services provided and the complexity of the migration.