Lately Microsoft has been in a rush to catch up with the cadre of online service providers that offer a bevy of online services. Google is one notable (albeit unlikely) competitor. It seems that every day it releases a new product or a major enhancement to an existing product that probably makes Microsoft shudder a bit.
I was excited to try Microsoft office live when I received the email to test the beta version with an activation key. To be honest, the product (or service, in this case) turned out to be something different than what I had expected. Let me explain.
There are three levels of office live to choose from. While they are all free in beta, the basic level is the one that would continue to remain free post-beta, so I opted for that. Registration was pretty simple. I was asked to choose a domain name, filled out some personal info, and gave a credit card number to verify my identity (the site assured me that there would be no charges). I was up and running immediately. But I wondered what I had just activated.
My expectation was to get some light version of Microsoft office (you know, Word, Excel, etc.) where I can create, edit, share, and manage my documents online. Instead what I got what pretty much a web hosting service with a web site, some page design tools, email accounts, and some other trifles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Microsoft here, this is still a great deal as web hosting services go, if only for the free domain name (although Microsoft holds control and ownership of it). But this is far from the ASP (application service provider) utopia that I was envisioning.
Perhaps I am partly to blame for having such lofty expectations. After all I didn’t really read much of the documentation or press releases associated with office live. I am still hoping that the real ASP features that I was hoping for are somewhere in there and I just didn’t see them. Or perhaps Microsoft intends to release these features sometime in the future. Until then, office live (at least the basic level I registered for) is probably just a test account for me, if that. I mean, I already have a decent web hosting service.
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