image OfficeLive

Last Tuesday I was running a workshop at the joint Microsoft and NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) on "getting the most from online communities".

Mainly I wanted to show people what can be done either free of charge or for very little money using the latest offerings from OfficeLive. See my interview with Tim Kimber, the Office Live product manager.

The demo I did was to:

  1. Go to
  2. Sign up to small business
  3. Talk about the offer (free domain name, free website, 50 email accounts)
  4. Show how you can get your own domain name
  5. Design the web site
    • Go to the no photo style and add logo picture
    • Add some photos
    • Create a calendar page
    • Add a contact us module
    • Add a live spaces blog
  6. Show reports
  7. Contact manager - show how people who subscribe to your newsletter show up in contacts
  8. Back to home and show apps:
    • Document manager, team workspaces, customer workspaces
    • Admanager and newsletter service

The demo went OK the first time but really quite slick the second time - perhaps the little bit of practice made the difference..

The questions I got asked and will attempt an answer now:

    1. Is there any sort of restriction on the downloads from the site? If my site is stupidly popular and I get a gazillion downloads will it crash and you’ll point to some bandwidth small print?

    We used to publish bandwidth and charge different levels for different amounts of it. However, we found that nobody was getting anywhere near the limits, so we removed it from everything. Everybody now gets the old OL Premium bandwidth of 20GB or more.

    2. Are there any restrictions on hotmail on the number of outgoing emails you can send? 

    Hotmail recently had to introduce a new limit of 250 emails per day (see here) and makes it harder to mail more than 10 people at the same time. Yahoo have just implemented the same and Gmail are expected to follow suit shortly. The reason for this is that ‘spamming factories’ are setting up tens of thousands of Hotmail accounts per hour and immediately sending out spam. It’s a nightmare that we can only resolve for the moment with these fairly restrictive rules.

    3. Is it possible to register a subdomain only so for example I have registered at some ISP but I want to register just with officelive? 

    the answer is no

    4. What support is there for porting pages from our existing website?

    We now have reasonable cut & paste support. It really depends on what the original website is developed in. for instance, if built in Dreamweaver, just upload the Dreamweaver files into OLSB free hosting space.  For html pages, currently all you can do is save them to your PC, then upload into image gallery. It’s really complex to get these things to render properly in an automated way.

    5. When it comes to closing it down how easy is it to totally remove the site?

    You can delete every page, or make them blank with some sort of “site dead” message. You can also call support and have them close down your account entirely.  We plan to have a “cancel my site” button soon that customers can self-delete

    6. I don’t want the site to be live until its ready, how do I stop it being ‘found’ by search engines until I’m happy with it?

    One trick is to build the site on the 4th level domain (eg, then only associate a domain name with it when fully ready. Search engines don’t trawl 4th level sites.

    7. How do users of my officelive site unsubscribe from the newsletter?

    Every newsletter you send out from the newsletter tool has an ‘unsubscribe’ button embedded

    8. Can I restrict access to the officelive site so that only people I trust can see parts or all of the site?  If I could do that it could work as a kind of intranet for us too.

    You can set up intranet functionality and invite users in with their WLID – team sites, workspaces, etc just like in Corporate WSS. We don’t have ID/Password protection for the whole site though (I believe there are some third party tools that can be integrated to do this).

    9. What about multilingual versions of officelive?

    We’re gradually rolling out new languages but you can only have one language per site. Of course, if you want multiple pages on your public website in different languages, you can just write each page in the language of your choice.

    10. I guess we can’t put code on the server but what about flash pages and animations and things?

    You can integrate things like Flash with a bit of html code. This is all detailed on