Office Live, a set of web-hosted services from Microsoft, will play a key role in the delivery of collaboration functions to users of its Office 2007 suite in small businesses.
Office 2007, unlike its predecessor Office 2003, is not just about personal productivity tools, but is focused on collaboration, said Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Information Worker Product Management Group.
However, collaboration features available in the Enterprise edition and some other versions of Office 2007 will not be offered in the Small Business version of Office 2007, Capossela said this week in Bangalore, India.
Small businesses want the collaboration features that are available in the enterprise edition of Office 2007, but they don't want to have to install and run the servers for it, Capossela said.
Instead Microsoft is developing Office Live services that complement the Office desktop for small business users.
Office Live will for example host some of the capabilities of Microsoft's Office SharePoint collaboration server, that will enable small businesses to share documents with business associates, Capossela said. Office SharePoint Server 2007 helps organizations gain better control and insight over their content, streamline their business processes, and access and share information, according to Microsoft.
The current focus of Office Live is on small businesses, the segment that is likely to find these services more valuable, but Microsoft is also adding Office Live services that will help students and home users share information with others, Capossela said.
Microsoft will package Office 2007 with different features for different categories of users. It has announced on its Web site eight versions of Office 2007, including Office Small Business, Office Home & Student, and Office Enterprise.
The small business version of the product has a contact management system that is not available on the enterprise or home versions. Small businesses are not likely to buy a separate, stand-alone CRM (customer relationship management) system, but they want contact management capabilities, Capossela said. "The contacts module in Outlook has been beefed up, and it is almost like a CRM lite," he added.
There are some other business capabilities in the enterprise version of Office 2007 that will not be available in a version for students and home users, he said.
Home users will not, for example, be able to digitally protect documents they send to others. Now will they be able to use workflow tools to automatically route a document to other people for approval or comments.