Tim Kimber As Office Live comes out of beta, I thought it would be good to catch up on the latest news.  Today I'm joined by Mr Office Live himself - Tim Kimber to tell us more:

Hi Tim, perhaps you'd like to introduce yourself and what you do?

I'm the Office Live Business & Marketing lead for Microsoft UK. Office Live is a set of web services for Small Businesses to help them get online and start promoting their companies

how long has Office Live been available in the UK - is it still in beta?

We launched the beta of Office Live in the UK on 21st November 2006, so we've been in market for around 6 months. We came out of beta on 23rd May 2007

so what is it under the covers? some sort of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 hosted environment I understand?

Yes, Office Live is built on a platform of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 with Windows Live services on top

why would a small business go for it?

We're finding that the free Office Live Basics is a really compelling proposition for startups and home-based businesses. But even Office live Essentials and Premium only cost £11.99 & £22.99 per company per month, so we are really delivering great value

With Office Live Basics, we provide everything for free - domain name, fully hosted 500MB site, 25 x 2GB email accounts, online calendar, contacts, task

Essentials & Premium include bigger website, more email accounts, online business contact management, workspaces for collaboration, project management, and much more. See http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/officelive/FX101925601033.aspx

and presumably they love the fact they don't have to run their own server infrastructure too - is that a big driver?

Yes, typically the customers who are signing up for Office Live are those who do not want the cost, maintenance and support implications of a server

so how many UK customers do you have?

In the UK, we now have 30,000 businesses signed to Office Live. Worldwide, we have around 450,000. When you consider that each Office Live business has 3-4 users on average, we're well on target to see around 2 million users over the coming weeks.

wow that's a lot - good work!

Yes, we've really shown that we know how to scale a web service

BT and Office Live team upI hear you have struck a deal with BT recently - can you fill us in on that and why it is so significant?

Earlier this week, BT launched a referral partnership with Office Live in the UK. This is the first stage in an ongoing relationship where we will work together to build out more compelling services for Office Live.

does this mean that BT are hosting the infrastructure?

No, its all hosted by Microsoft

Is Microsoft likely to do this with other partners or is this an exclusive deal with BT?

We plan to forge many partnerships across the board from the very smallest to the very largest partner. Some of our early adopter solution partners can be seen at http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/officelive/FX102051381033.aspx

The question people always ask me about Office Live is whether Microsoft see this as a way to combat online office clones like Google docs - can you comment?

In all our research and focus groups, we haven't come across a single small business who told us that their pain point as word processing or spreadsheets. Everybody's got a copy of Office. Where small businesses do feel the pain is in collaborating with those documents once they've created them and that's where Office Live adds significant value. Remember, Microsoft's vision is "software + services", and Office Live literally brings the copy of Office on your PC alive

hopefully not literally! Are there any other misconceptions about Office Live you'd like to debunk?

The main one is that some people think Office Live is web versions of Word, Excel & PowerPoint. As we've described above, this is not the case

Going forwards what can we expect to see from the Office Live team?

We plan to become the onestop shop for small business marketing their companies online. Expect to see email marketing tools, ecommerce functionality, search engine marketing and other features that deliver a great return on marketing investment

looking forward to it. Tim thanks for your time today - any final words you would like to add?

Yes, if you haven't done so already, sign up for your free Office Live account at www.officelive.co.uk

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