Bill Gates announced Microsoft Online Services will be delivered as a subscription service, hosted by Microsoft and sold with partners.  Designed for customers with managed IT needs, the offering will include Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online, Office Live Meeting and Exchange Hosted Services. The announcement is a key part of Microsoft's Software+Services (S+S) strategy.

Businesses of all sizes can register for the beta today at www.mosbeta.com. However, it is only available to US-based businesses at this time and will initially be limited to a few thousand businesses. Microsoft will eventually expand the beta to include more businesses.

In October, we announced that Online Services would be available to companies with 5000 or more users. This dedicated offering is available today an dincludes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online, and Office Live Meeting. The announcement at the SharePoint Developers Conference this week will be available to customers of all sizes.

Microsoft Online Services are designed for business with managed IT requirements, while Microsoft Office Live services are targeted at consumers and small businesses with little to no IT resources.

Microsoft Online Services will rely on an extensive ecosystem of partners to resell, customize and offer training and consulting services.

For a video describing the service, see TechNet Edge.