Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has announced that it will offer its Online Services to businesses of all sizes. A limited beta trial of the new services is now available, with general release scheduled for the second half of the year.

Based on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 software, the new services enable smaller businesses to access enterprise-class e-mail, calendaring, contacts, shared workspaces, and videoconferencing on-demand. The new services are managed through a single Web-based interface that allows administrators to monitor the performance of services, add and configure users, submit and track support requests, and manage users and licenses.

"The combination of software plus services gives customers advanced choice and flexibility in how they access and manage software," Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, said in a statement. "With Microsoft Online Services, businesses can deploy software as a subscription service, from servers they manage onsite, or a combination of the two, depending on their specific needs. In the future, customers and partners should expect to see this kind of choice and flexibility for all of Microsoft's software and server products."