Previewed last Autumn, Microsoft Office Live is touted as a way for smaller firms to get up and running on the internet quickly, easily and inexpensively.
"The internet is crucial to running a successful business today, and companies that don't have at least an online presence risk missing out," said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division.
"With Microsoft Office Live, we are making online services available for small businesses to create an enterprise-like IT infrastructure without the management requirements.
"Our goal is to make it easy and affordable for small businesses to have a more customisable internet-based solution."
Microsoft explained that Office Live will range from free services including domain names, websites and company email accounts which carry advertising, to more comprehensive services available on a subscription basis.
The offerings are designed to be particularly attractive to companies with 10 or fewer employees, which typically lack in-house technical resources or the budget to keep an IT person on staff.
The beta trial offers free versions of the services in the initial public release, and will all carry advertising.
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