Have you tried or used Office Live? In early days since it launched, I had signed up for it and essentially what it gave me was a public facing website, ability to integrate mail (using Hotmail as the back-end platform) and also enabled collaboration with others by using their email address (via the workspace).

In short, it was SharePoint lite (workspace) combined with email and the public facing website – all in the cloud – for individuals and small businesses enabling them to get started with a website, email and collaboration platform in the cloud.

Icing on the cake – all for free! In fact, for initial years Microsoft even paid for your domain name registration, but this service was not widely marketed – could be for variety of reasons, primary could be BPOS – SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, Live Meeting and OCS – being an ideal choice for small to business users. The only caveat with BPOS implementation was the SharePoint was not public facing and that it did not have anonymous access.

I think Office Live was a great service to have and although I did play around with it, I did not use it because I did not have a business at that point in time. I won’t go in to what you could do with this service (rather what you can do with this service, which is still available for free via http://officelive.com) but it will be interesting to see, what happens after Office365 comes out of beta and is made available in ‘production’ – RTW / GA.

If you want to have a public facing web site and happy to use Hotmail for emails – all with your own company url, then sign up for officelive.com and you are ready to launch. On the other side, Office365 is now available to try (beta invites can be requested from here).

What is Office365? How is it different from Office Live? Stay tuned for Office365 blog posts that I have lined up to go live in the weeks to come…