Warning: you need to take action if you have a Microsoft Office Live Small Business Web site

Microsoft announced that Office Live Small Business will be discontinued on May 1, 2012. People who currently have an Office Live Web site must take action—there is no automatic roll-over to the new Microsoft Office 365.

Because I’ve been recommending Office Live to brand new entrepreneurs and clients for years, I’ve compiled some useful information to help users decide what to do next.

What about my FREE Web site?
If you are a current Office Live customer, Microsoft is offering a free 6-month trial of Office 365 and Office Professional Plus. The URL you need is found in the pop-up announcement that appears when you log in to your Office Live account. This same announcement includes a link to the self-transition guide. If you do not transition to Office 365, your free Web site (and/or your Web site with the domain name you paid to use) and any related e-mail accounts will be deactivated and deleted after April 30, 2012.

How much is this new service going to cost me?
You can calculate the pay-as-you-go Office 365 subscription price here. Note: if you are a current Office Live customer, the Free Trial button here is NOT what you want to click (see information above).

Where can I find answers?
This is Microsoft’s FAQ page.

Where can I find a service similar to Office Live?
As of this writing, I can recommend Weebly.com or WordPress.com to those who need a free Web presence.

What other Web hosting is available?
There are Web hosting companies in all price, features, and reliability ranges. Some of them advertise during the Super Bowl. Others receive endorsements from WordPress.org (not WordPress.com) based on criteria outlined in the WP sidebar (full disclosure: some of these same hosting companies may donate a portion of your fee to WP). I know several people who love HostGator for the price and the affiliate commissions they make.

What should I do?
You can’t do nothing or you will lose everything. If you can’t make up your mind, either go with the free trial, manually transfer the required information, and buy yourself some time OR capture all your contact information, Web page text, Web images, Web documents, and Web site statistics and reports now before they disappear then create a Web presence elsewhere at some time in the near future.

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