Office Live, Only without Office

I see that Microsoft Office Live has been released into beta today.

officeliveI guess I’ve been asleep at the keyboard, because while I have heard of Office Live, I was completely wrong about what it is. I thought it was online versions of Microsoft Office- you know Word, Excel and all that. Turns out it is a website hosting and development tool for small businesses.

And based on my reading this morning, I’m not the only person who was mistaken about Office Live.

Joe Wilcox at the Microsoft Monitor finally explained what Office Live is. Microsoft Merrimac has not yet weighed in on the issue.

Greg Linden may be on to something when he wonders if the name isn’t really about leveraging Microsoft Office’s mindshare.

Fellow Wagon Trainer Phil Sim thinks it’s about finding a growth area and awaits Google’s parry.

While I agree that small business is a growth area, it blows my mind that so many people are confused about what Office Live is or is not. This was either some bizarre marketing strategy by Microsoft or failure to manage the opening properly. The buzz that the term Office Live generates fades into confusion and disappointment upon closer review.

I’m not a marketing guru, but why not call it Business Live?

All of this unnecessary confusion is too bad, because it looks like Office Live is a pretty neat service, notwithstanding the confusing name.

The news I like even better today is this little nugget I found over at JK‘s. A free hosted Exchange service. Now that’s something a lot of small businesses really need. Why is this not getting more attention?