Many Office Live Small Business users fret over Office 365 transition
The e-mail and website hosting service will close on May 1, and many customers are finding the move to Office 365 technically complex
IDG News Service - Many companies that rely on Office Live Small Business (OLSB) for their e-mail and website hosting are complaining that a required transition to Office 365 or to a third-party hosting provider is too complicated for them to carry out and that Microsoft could be doing more to help them out as OLSB's closure date fast approaches.
A cloud-hosted service, OLSB, will close on April 30, and customers have the option to move to Office 365 or to another hosting provider, but discussion forums and blogs are lit up with posts and comments from stressed-out users who are having a hard time carrying out the transition.
Asked for comment, a Microsoft spokeswoman pointed out that the company announced that Office 365 would replace OLSB in October 2010, and that it is actively communicating with OLSB users via e-mail and official discussion forums and websites, like this official "transition center."
"We are offering OLSB users six months free of Office 365 for professionals and small business and Office Professional Plus to help ease the transition. We are providing comprehensive guidance, videos and support to make the transition from OLSB to Office 365 or another provider as straightforward as possible," she wrote via e-mail.
Microsoft is also suggesting that OLSB customers can tap Microsoft partners to assist with the migration.
Rebecca Wettemann, a Nucleus Research analyst, said that so far her company's analysis of the use of Office 365 by small businesses shows that the benefits of Office 365 "far outweigh the costs."
"Cutting down on the number of competing services helps Microsoft keep support costs lower. OLSB may have been cheaper but SMBs looking at the upside of 365 are likely to find one of the packages compelling -- and smart ones will sharpen their negotiating skills to get Office 365 and the transition at a price point that makes sense," she said via email.
Still, critical OLSB users say that Microsoft could have come up with automated tools and processes to aid in the transition, and that the cost of hiring a partner will further add to the higher cost of Office 365, as compared with OLSB.
OLSB users are particularly peeved at the process of migrating their OLSB-hosted and designed websites over to Office 365. Microsoft indicates that OLSB users copy and paste their web pages over to Office 365, but many users are reporting formatting problems in the transition, especially if the websites have custom design features.
According to the Microsoft spokeswoman, there is one partner called CloudVisors that recently developed a tool for automatically transitioning OLSB websites to Office 365. CloudVisors is offering a 50 percent discount to OLSB users -- a special fee of $199.95.
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