Office Live Small Business customers grapple with migration
The Microsoft e-mail and website hosting service shut down days ago, but many small businesses haven't yet moved to another service
IDG News Service - 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.
Frustrated small business owners are struggling with a variety of technical issues, including lengthy delays in the process of verifying ownership of the Internet domains they're transferring from OLSB to Office 365 and other third-party hosts, according to posts made on the official OLSB Community site, the official Office 365 Facebook page, discussion forums, social media sites and blogs.
Microsoft started dismantling OLSB and turning off customer websites after midnight U.S. Pacific Time on Tuesday, though the company pledged to maintain Windows Live Hotmail custom email addresses hosted by the service for six months.
Microsoft is also providing an online form that OLSB customers can fill out to recover lost website data.
Microsoft on Friday declined to comment when asked how many OLSB customers missed the deadline to migrate.
Microsoft first announced its intention to close OLSB about 18 months ago and launched the suite's replacement, Office 365, in June of last year. Customers also have the option to migrate to non-Microsoft email and website hosting providers such as GoDaddy.
The decision to close OLSB was unpopular from the beginning, leading many customers to question why the service had to be shut down at all.
Complaints have also centered on the perception that Microsoft did very little to help OLSB customers migrate from the service. The customer base is made up largely of small businesses, which typically have limited technology knowledge and resources.
Specifically, Microsoft never developed a tool to automate the migration process. At a late stage, around March, several Microsoft partners began offering fee-based migration software tools and IT services.
In addition to the domain-verification delays, many customers have also had serious difficulties transferring their OLSB-hosted websites over to Office 365. Not only is the process a manual one involving copying and pasting of pages and their content, but in addition, the platforms are different, so many custom features and design elements have to be manually recreated.
A Microsoft spokeswoman earlier this week said via email: "We're communicating directly with OLSB users via email, the OLSB community, the OLSB website and through notifications in the service to help them transition to Office 365 or another provider."
Microsoft has an online transition center for OLSB where it published, among other things, a transition guide for customers willing to do the migration manually.
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