announced a roadmap and pricing for a number of online software packages for the enterprise and small business market. Microsoft Online Services is currently available in a limited beta and will come in two flavors: Business Productivity Online Standard Suite for $15 a seat, and a Deskless Worker Suite for $3 a seat.At its Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston today, Microsoft
The Business Productivity Suite will come with Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online (IM and Presence), as well as Office Live Meeting. The cheaper Deskless Worker Suite will only include Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. Companies do not have to subscribe to the complete packages, but can also subscribe to individual services as well.
Microsoft Online Services is scheduled to be released out of beta at some point in the second half of 2008.
The Deskless Worker Suite, as Mary Jo Foley notes, seems to be geared towards users who might otherwise be tempted to move to Google Docs or Zoho's online office suite. Microsoft is aiming this product at workers who only spend a small part of their days at a computer, but still need access to email and and other basic online services.
As Microsoft is moving more and more services into the cloud, the big question of when (and if) Microsoft will start offering the core components of its office suite like Word and Excel online as well, still remains. For now, Microsoft seems content to offer products like Office Live Workspace that provides online storage in the cloud, but as pressure from Google and others increases, Microsoft will surely have to counter these offerings with a more fully featured web based office suite.