Microsoft grabs 'office.com' domain

It could be a destination for upcoming Office Web apps

Microsoft has acquired the office.com domain from a Brussels-based company, according to searches of Internet registration records.

The domain, which was previously registered to the ContactOffice Group, a company that hosts an online productivity and collaboration suite, was transferred to Microsoft's control on Tuesday, searches of WHOIS revealed.

Office.com currently presents a message from ContactOffice telling its users of a domain change to office.contactoffice.com, a secondary address that the European firm has had in its possession since 1999.

"As of Friday, July 31, 2009, Office.com will no longer be available," said Tom Graham, a ContactOffice employee, in the message still live on the site. Also, if you use POP or IMAP with Office.com you will need to change your settings to pop.contactoffice.net and imap.contactoffice.net respectively," Graham added.

ContactOffice did not respond to e-mails asking it to confirm the sale of the site; Microsoft was not available for comment early Thursday.

Long Zheng, who first reported on the domain name change on his Windows blog I Started Something, speculated that Microsoft will use the new domain for the upcoming online versions of its popular Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications.

Microsoft touted Office Web last month, promising that consumers would be able to access the scaled-down applications for free. Workers at companies with Software Assurance plans in place will also be able to use Office Web free of charge.

A public beta round for Office Web is slated for later this year; the final version is to launch simultaneously with Office 2010, which is scheduled to ship sometime in the first half of 2010.

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