EDS to sell Microsoft online services

Microsoft officially launched its hosted services in 18 countries and lined up new partners to help sell them

On Monday, Microsoft began offering its hosted services to companies in 18 countries outside of the U.S. and said that EDS would help sell the services.

While the services have been available in the U.S., companies in 18 other countries have only been allowed to sign up for a trial supporting 20 users.

They'll now be able to buy the hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications and Office Live Meeting and get a 25 percent discount if they sign up before the end of June.

Microsoft also promoted a few partnerships that could help it sell more of the hosted offerings. EDS will start selling the services to its customers and will become the first reseller of the Business Productivity Online Suite.

Also, Accenture and Avanade said they plan to offer related services to large businesses, such as helping them migrate from on-premise software to the hosted services.

Microsoft began offering the hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint in the U.S. in November and started allowing the trials in other countries in March.

As the economy continues to slide, companies are growing more interested in using hosted software. In January, researchers at IDC upped their projection for growth in the software-as-a-service market from 36 percent in 2009 to 40.5 percent compared to last year.

That's because as companies pinch pennies, they are attracted to the SaaS model of paying for what they use, rather than making large upfront investments for future use, IDC said.

By the end of this year, IDC predicts that 76 percent of all U.S. businesses will use at least one SaaS delivered application.

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Nancy Gohring

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