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Microsoft Wants to bCentral to Your Business

Making another effort to win the hearts and (and dollars) of small-business owners, Microsoft Corp. launched Business Web Services, the first of several new integrated services planned for its bCentral small-business service.

Business Web Services offers an integrated sign-up process and a fee of $24.95 per month .Microsoft said it is aimed at taking the work out of creating a complete business Web presence -- including providing domain registration, business e-mail, site creation and hosting, e-commerce and Web-based marketing services.

In just a few minutes, a non-technical business owner can use Business Web Services to register his or her business name; build a customizable, commerce-enabled Web site; have business e-mail based on hosted Microsoft Exchange Server 2000; and access a variety of services to help with promotion.

Built on Microsoft Exchange 2000 Outlook Web Access, Business Web Services provides business-class e-mail, calendaring, contacts and document storage to client businesses with an online service that is accessible from the office or on the road. The interface delivers a Microsoft Outlook-like experience via a Web browser without requiring installation of additional software.

At the client company's business Web site, support is built in for online orders and real-time payment processing.

Launched a year ago, bCentral now claims more than 1 million registered users.

"Business Web Services is the first of many offerings that demonstrate the importance of integration in Web-based services," said Satya Nadella, vice president of Microsoft bCentral.

"Our customers have told us that many of their business processes overlap -- for example, marketing their business and finding customer leads (and) needing solutions that unify customer communications, Web presence and online marketing. bCentral will build on the Microsoft .NET Platform to bring all of these services together"