David Pogue of the New York Times reviewed the new release of Microsoft Office Live Small Business on Thursday, and made one of his trademark, quirky videos to tout its value to small businesses. What caught my eye in particular was the fact that he chose to use an artist as his case study for the target user of Office Live Small Business.
Office Live Small Business (O.L.S.B.) is a centralized Web site where you can set up all of those small-businessy things — a Web site, an online ad campaign, e-mail promotions, in-company communications — all by yourself, even if you’re not very technical. For the first time, these big-league tools are within your reach, partly because you don’t have to hire somebody to set them up and partly because many of them are free.
This is what I’ve been telling artists and cultural organizations for some time now — one of the most exciting new developments in this whole “web 2.0” nonsense is that you can do all kinds of technical things now for free or very little money and with no real technical knowledge.
What makes Office Live Small Business so compelling is its sharp focus on a single problem: that half the small businesses in America, and 70 percent of one-person businesses, don’t even have Web sites.
Yes, it still required some digging to find the various purveyors of all the different pieces of the puzzle — get that free basic rate from Constant Contact for your newsletter, get a free blog hosted on WordPress, sell your goods online with Etsy — but it was all there, waiting to be assembled.
Well, the equivalents of some of these pieces have all been assembled, for free, by — of all companies — Microsoft.
I expect this package will be compelling to artists (sole proprietors) and cultural organizations (corporations, of the 501 C3 variety) alike. As Pogue rightly points out, this package is innovative, focussed, and game-changing.
And totally surprising, coming from Microsoft.