Microsoft's Office Live Web service was designed for small businesses that needed an easy solution for creating websites and business emails. Microsoft Office Live Small Business offers a single service with a number of pay-for add-ons.

This ease of use comes at a price, though. The Microsoft Office Live Small Business web editor's simplicity will frustrate experienced users who aren't afraid of HTML - you can't view or modify the underlying HTML of the pages you create within the web-design tool. For example, if you enter a product description on a page, you can't see the HTML for that text. You can't add a tag to, say, add italics to a word or phrase; instead, you must use the editor to select the text and click the Italics tool-bar button.

There are, however, new ways to incorporate HTML. For instance, you can include code snippets from other sources via a pop-up text window, and you can activate the advanced features, including the ability to use third-party design tools instead of the built-in designer. We must issue a big caveat, however - choose this option from the start. Although you can upload your entire site from a third-party tool, Microsoft Office Live Small Business wipes out anything you created with its designer. Ouch.

One limitation of the previous Office Live Web editor was that you could enter header and footer information but not modify its layout. With Microsoft Office Live Small Business you can now customise the cascading style sheet (CSS), add site information (a title and slogan), save a page as a template and even create a custom form.

Experienced users can create a form or list and control it with JavaScript, but Microsoft advises using this feature only if you understand XML schemas and XSL coding.

Among other improvements in the Microsoft Office Live Small Business release are support for Firefox 2.0 for both Mac and PC (at last), a link to Windows Live Spaces blogs to incorporate blog content into your site and an updated Slide Show module that lets you add captions for up to 50 rotating images to your site.

Your web page can also include content from a variety of included modules. For example, you can add a map with driving directions, a list of stock quotes and local weather (with optional four-day forecast).

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