David Hunter has a blog post entitled
Microsoft relaunches bCentral, calls it Office Live where he writes
Sept. 23, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the
launch of Microsoft® bCentral, a new portal created specifically to
meet the needs of small and growing companies. Microsoft bCentral
provides a comprehensive and integrated suite of services to help
growing companies leverage the Internet to improve their business. The
site delivers services in three key areas: getting a business started
online by connecting to the Web and building a Web site; promoting and
marketing online to reach new customers; and managing a business more
effectively. A beta version of the new site will be available in the
United States beginning Sept. 30, 1999, at http://www.bCentral.com/ .
Change the menu a little and call it Office Live and you have today’s announcement:
Feb. 15, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the beta availability of Microsoft® Office Live (http://www.OfficeLive.com),
offering small-business customers a cost-free opportunity to experience
the company’s new Internet-based software services firsthand. A
milestone for the online services previewed last fall, Microsoft Office
Live combines the power of software and services to deliver rich and
seamless experiences to small companies that want a presence online.
Microsoft Office Live helps lower the barriers to doing business
online by offering small companies a set of Internet-based business
services. Designed for ease of use and affordability, the online
services are designed to give small businesses the same advantages as
larger enterprises by getting them up and running on the Internet
quickly, easily and inexpensively.
There were no surprises from the various “preannouncements” yesterday or even from the original Office Live announcement...So
what’s with the Office moniker? There had
been some expectations, despite all the clues to the contrary, that
there were to be online versions of at least some of the Office
products. Those hopes were dashed...The use of “Office” in “Office
Live” apparently connotes business usage, and that’s it...So I guess we
take it for what it is. There may well be a play in the
hosted “intranet replacement” offering if they roll out some useful
applications, but that’s a story we heard about the now defunct
bCentral too (e.g. , ). Presumably, Microsoft thinks they’ll have more luck this time around, but it’s not clear why.
The folks working on Office Live have big plans for the service. The
big question is whether our execs will let them execute on their vision
or whether we'll continue to practice death by risk aversion.