Yesterday’s New York Times contained an article by David Pogue, “Mom and Pop Get a Partner: Microsoft”, that announces a whole new suite of services for small businesses from Microsoft. And they are all virtually free. You can set up a website in minutes, purchase your own domain name for free for the first year, get email, use collaborative tools including calendaring, project management, shared documents and more. All of this come with some pretty powerful user access controls so that you can set up teams to collaborate internally or include your customers and everyone sees and changes only what they are supposed.
I would say that anyone in a startup or small business who does not already have a website and these other tools should immediately click on over to Microsoft’s OfficeLive site and check this out. This will require some real work to take advantage of all of the tools available here, but it is not often that such a comprehensive suite is available essentially for free.
If you add a few web-based applications for writing, number crunching, and presentations, clearly we are approaching the new world of cloud computing more rapidly than I had thought. I regularly use Buzzword for my writing. Others may like the suites of tools at Google or Zoho, for example.