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Microsoft reinvents Office Live for small biz as 'free'

Except for the subs, that is

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Microsoft has rejigged its Office Live Small Business product to pull in more customers by bringing three existing paid-for versions under one roof for free.

Instead of charging for the apps, the company aims to scoop up cash by charging for some add-on tools.

Office Live Small Business is aimed at companies with ten employees or fewer and to date has pulled in 600,000 subscribers, which is somewhat modest by Microsoft standards.

New features include Store Manager, a $39.95 per month ecommerce tool for small and medium-sized business to sell their wares online either through their own website or on eBay; and a beta email marketing add-on for newsletter production.

Customers can expect to stump up $14.95 for each subsequent year that they have a domain name registered on the service. Anyone who subscribes to Office Live Small Business will be able to keep their personal information out of the public Whois database, Microsoft says.

And for all those Vista-dodging customers out there, Redmond has helpfully made the whole thing compatible with the Firefox 2.0 web browser – which means Office Live will be accessible on non-Windows-based systems.

The service is currently available in the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan.

Microsoft's press release is here. ®

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