Microsoft launched its Office Live suite of online business software in the U.S. on Nov. 15 and said it would release test versions in Europe and Japan next week. Internet-based Office Live applications geared to small businesses were available in a free "Basics" version and in an upgraded "Essentials" package costing $19.95 monthly and a "Premium" version for $39.95.
Free beta, or trial, versions of Office Live would be available in France, Britain, Germany, and Japan beginning November 21, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft billed the suite of software as a tool for businesses to create websites, attract customers and manage their affairs. "Most small businesses lack IT expertise," said Microsoft vice president Rajesh Jha. "Office Live is a one-stop shop that levels the playing field for companies with 10 or fewer employees by providing software and services that make a big difference."
Japanese electronics giants Toshiba and Sony will put Internet links to Office Live on notebook computers and laptops beginning next year.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006