SMB Services Big Focus for Both Microsoft, Yahoo

Ann All

With all of the ongoing drama surrounding Microsoft's unsolicited bid to buy Yahoo, it's hard to focus on anything else.


It's easy to overlook, for example, the parallel moves made by both companies to attract new SMB customers. As InformationWeek reports, Microsoft tweaked its Office Small Business Live offering, making more of the online services free, adding new e-mail and marketing options and also support for the Firefox browser.


As I blogged earlier this week, Microsoft also will offer more flexible pricing for its software licenses, a move it says should reduce license-only costs for SMBs by two-thirds.


Yahoo last week sweetened its existing Web hosting deal for SMBs with unlimited storage and network usage for a flat monthly fee of $11.95. It followed up this week, reports InformationWeek, with a shiny, new version of its online Zimbra collaboration suite, which includes e-mail, calendaring and contact management -- many of the same services found in Small Business Live.


Such an overlap of products would present a clear challenge to Microsoft if its proposed acquisition goes through, notes InformationWeek. The software giant would face some tough choices about which services to keep, which to expand and which to dump.


In an earlier InformationWeek story, the CTO of Yahoo's Zimbra unit says it is going ahead with a passel of improvements, despite the fact that many analysts think Microsoft would kill Zimbra rather than let it compete with Exchange.

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