Microsoft Clams up on BPOS-Lite Rumor

Public job listing suggests a new, stripped-down version of the Business Productivity Online Suite is on the way.

Microsoft has removed a job posting seeking a manager for a new hosted offering related to the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) that's intended to bring e-mail and collaboration services to small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

The service is code-named "BPOS-Lite," according to text of the posting, which was revealed in early February by and Redmond columnist Mary Jo Foley. "BPOS-Lite ... is part of the 'next wave' of services targeting professional individuals and smaller organizations, offering Microsoft's best collaboration, communications and productivity services," the now-removed posting said.

The manager hired for the position will be charged with developing business strategy, including creating a go-to-market model, launching services and developing service enhancements, according to the posting. The manager will "act as a strong advocate for BPOS-Lite with corporate, field and partner teams; with analysts; and at industry and customer events," according to the post.

Microsoft isn't commenting, though its partner group has tweeted Foley's post. "We're always working on the next wave of Microsoft Online Services, offering Microsoft's best collaboration, communications and productivity services to businesses of all sizes," said a prepared statement e-mailed by a company spokesperson. "Although we don't have details available to share today, we look forward to sharing more at a later date."

A typical "later date" for partner-related announcements -- and for several previous BPOS-related announcements -- is the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The event takes place this year in Washington, D.C., from July 12-15.

One person who's heard rumblings about BPOS-Lite is Bob Leibholz, vice president of business development at New York-based Intermedia Inc., a Gold Certified Partner and one of the largest BPOS hosting providers with more than 250,000 Microsoft Exchange seats. Leibholz says Microsoft hasn't given him any information about the service, and he's wondering if it may put a tighter squeeze on him and his partners.

Leibholz made his displeasure known last fall when Microsoft cut the pricing of BPOS from $15 a month per subscriber to $10. (See the December 2009 article, "Will the BPOS PRice Cuts Hurt Partners?")

"From my perspective, they devalued BPOS last year when they decreased the price, and a concept of BPOS-Lite, which is basically another price concession, fundamentally continues to miss the understanding of value and rather compete purely on price," Leibholz said at the time.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has experienced scattered outages with its BPOS service over the past few weeks. According to a letter to customers in January from the Microsoft Online Services team, the root causes of the outages were issues with networking. "We hold ourselves to the very highest standard," the letter said. "And yesterday, we didn't meet it."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.


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