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Office Live Small Business is closed, but customers still grapple with migration

Juan Carlos Perez | May 7, 2012
The deadline to migrate email domains and websites hosted on the Microsoft Office Live Small Business (OLSB) online service suite passed on Monday, but customers continue to post a steady stream of complaints and problem reports, indicating that the number of businesses that haven't made the transition is considerable.

One customer who took on the task of migrating her e-mail domain and website to Office 365 was Elaine Haygood, CEO of Lens Caps Productions, an independent multimedia production company in Chicago.

"I did the migration on my own, but I soon realized that the process was made harder than it had to be," said Haygood, whose company started using OLSB in 2005 for email, web hosting, intranet and document and data storage.

Not surprisingly, the email component is particularly important for her business operations. ""My business email is critical. I use it for automated billing, dealing with service providers, tracking orders of supplies, as well as my social media," she said.

It took her more than one week to transfer her company's domain from OLSB to Office 365. Many features and functions of her website didn't carry over to Office 365.

"I still maintain a 'basic' business info site on Office 365. A lot of the things we were able to do with OLSB's Design Wizard aren't supported on Office 365. I've seen posting instructions on workarounds, but it's very complex, and you'd need more than my meager skills to do so," Haygood said via email.

Haygood is still working on her company's website on Office 365, although she finds the design capabilities of the service "less than basic." Thus, she has opted to spin off the content aimed at fans of her company's work -- including web comics, graphic novels and animation -- in another website hosted on Wix, which she finds is much more suitable for high-traffic, entertainment-oriented sites.


"This was all very stressful. I thought I would only have to have my site down for a week originally while I worked this all out. Try to imagine having to tell my fanbase that the site would be down for the better part of a month while we work things out," she said. "Understand, when you're trying to build a brand, you can't afford to have that much down time. People lose interest and look elsewhere for their entertainment."

The number of Microsoft partners making migration tools and services available has been growing, responding to the demand for help from customers. One such partner is SkyKick, whose Office Live Switching Application automatically moves a company's website and email, calendar and contacts, including their

> domain, from Office Live to Office 365.

"We've designed it so that anyone can move their business in just 10 minutes of their time, with no IT experience required," said SkyKick Co-CEO Todd Schwartz via email.

The OLSB closure and migration process hasn't provided good publicity for Microsoft, which is in a dogfight with Google in the market for cloud-based e-mail and collaboration suites. Microsoft's Office 365 competes directly with Google Apps. The small business-segment is an important one in this market, accounting for most of the initial Office 365 sign-ups.


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