Microsoft has announced that the company will now offer Microsoft Online Services to businesses of all sizes.

Based on the software available in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, the new Google-rivaling services enable businesses to access email, calendaring, contacts, shared workspaces, and webconferencing and videoconferencing over the web.

"The combination of software plus services gives customers advanced choice and flexibility in how they access and manage software", Bill Gates said.

"With Microsoft Online Services, businesses can deploy software as a subscription service, from servers they manage on-site, 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."

A limited beta trial of the new services has been opened to US-based companies who can register at http://www.mosbeta.com.

The new services are scheduled to be generally available to businesses of all sizes in the second half of the year.