Microsoft proceeded with its plans to shut down its cloud-based Office Live Small Business (OLSB) service suite this past Monday. It is still unclear how many of its customers were aware of the closure deadline or were experiencing problems migrating their sites to the successor Office 365 service. The OLSB service offered primarily email communications and site hosting services. Although the company is going to take down OLSB-hosted sites, it will keep the custom email addresses it created for OLSB customers on Windows Live Hotmail. The addresses will not stay alive forever though. The email addresses will only be operational for six months.
OLSB customers who were unaware of the service’s closing can fill out an online form so they can recover any data they lost from their closed sites.
Microsoft did not supply an estimate regarding what percentage of OLSB customers have already migrated away and what percentage will have their websites taken down. This decision was announced around 18 months ago. Microsoft launched the OLSB service’s replacement, Office 365, last June. Customers were given the option to migrate to the successor site or to non-Microsoft hosting providers like GoDaddy and non-Microsoft email providers.
According to Microsoft’s formal statement regarding the closures, the company is communicating directly with users of the OLSB system through system notifications, the service’s website, the OLSB community and via email to help users migrate over to Office 365 or other solution providers. The software giant even has an online OLSB transition center which includes, among other resources, a guide showing how users can migrate manually to the new system.
If OLSB clients have a tough time transitioning or need outside help, there are Microsoft partners who help them make the move to Office 365.
Regardless, there is still no word regarding whether this move will result in fallout for Microsoft. It will probably take several days for the overall picture clear up as we get a better view of how many OLSB customers were cut off by this move. If the numbers turn out to be significant, expect to hear more about this issue in the press. The service closure’s consequences to the affected small businesses and Microsoft could be quite substantial. On Microsoft’s part, it could also be quite costly as small business owners wake up to find out that their websites have disappeared. These businesses would obviously be harmed due to the impact the loss of the sites has on these business’ marketing and sales efforts.
Simply put, Microsoft cannot afford a public relations misstep at this point since it is already struggling against Google and other competitors for the provision of online tools for collaboration and communications.