Al Sacco: Microsoft, RIM to announce free hosted BES product?

Users of Microsoft's Exchange Online 2010 hosted e-mail service could soon get a free BlackBerry offering.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion and software giant Microsoft are expected this week to announce a free version of Microsoft's hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for Exchange Online-hosted e-mail customers.

The hosted BES product itself is not new, but the free pricing would be; BES for Microsoft Exchange Online currently costs $10 per month, according to a post on ZDNet.com, but it will reportedly soon be free to Microsoft's Exchange 2010 Online customers, at least for the time being.

Exchange 2010 Online is Microsoft's hosted Exchange e-mail offering, and the BES product enables users to employ BlackBerry smartphones for on-the-go access to Exchange e-mail, calendar and tasks. And admistrators get RIM's industry-lauded BlackBerry security and device management features.

Few additional details are available, but RIM has scheduled a "BlackBerry for Business" media webcast for 2 p.m. EST Thursday, during which time the product will likely be officially announced, along with more specifics.

I'll be sitting in on the webcast, and I'll post any additional noteworthy details on the free hosted BES for Microsoft Exchange Online 2010 ASAP, assuming the webcast proves to be related to this rumored announcement.

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for CIO.com. Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at asacco@cio.com

This story, "Al Sacco: Microsoft, RIM to announce free hosted BES product?" was originally published by CIO .

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