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.

Integration is also dramatically improved in this version. For instance, you can maintain an employee list in the contact manager and automatically update a staff list (with selected fields only) to your website, so customers can view the email or phone numbers of your staff. Change a phone number of an employee in the contact manager, and the number is automatically updated on your website.

One feature we would still like to see is a simple Undo to encourage experimentation. Without it, undoing some actions can take more effort than it should. Removing a table inserted in error is a big hassle, for instance.

Included at no cost are 500MB of website storage (you can purchase an additional 5GB for $14.95 - £8) plus unlimited bandwidth. If you already have a domain, you can point it to your Microsoft Office Live Small Business site at no charge.

Email included

Of course, what's a website without a way for visitors to contact you? You can create and associate up to 100 email addresses with your Microsoft Office Live Small Business account, each with 5GB of storage. (In testing, the accounts were assigned to the Officelivebeta.com domain.) If you sign up for your own domain, the 100 email accounts will use the domain you've chosen.

As the mail administrator, we found it easy to change passwords (to prevent departing employees from accessing their mail, for example) so we could still keep their messages or delete accounts outright.

As with all the services branded with Microsoft's Live moniker, things can get confusing. For example, the distinction between email addresses assigned to an MOLSB account and the Microsoft Office Live Small Business user assigned to your account can get a bit complicated.

You can define up to five users - all of whom must have Microsoft Passport accounts, such as Hotmail or Live.com accounts - at no cost. These five users can log into your Microsoft Office Live Small Business account and use whatever features you've allowed, such as the Contact Manager.

Now let's say you've assigned those five accounts and now you want to set up an email address called [email protected] You set up the email address from within Microsoft Office Live Small Business, after which you can view messages to [email protected] through the Windows Live Mail service or MOLSB interface, whichever you prefer. If you access email messages through Microsoft Office Live Small Business, you'll actually be taken to the Windows Live Mail service anyway.

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