Office Live – A review

Since someone told me about this at work, it sounded interesting.   Microsoft now offer a free template style web site which they host at no charge, a domain name is even thrown in.

When I needed to get an online presence to promote my plans to volunteer in Israel this seemed like a great solution.

Microsoft being the all conquering software mammoth are of course criticised, and using this service wasn’t going to win me respect with my fellow geek peers but I decided to go for it, seeing as free as good, and HTML and web design isn’t my thing and starting learning in this field isn’t on my priority list seeing as there’s other aspects in IT that more relevant to my interests.

During the registration process I was required to be a fee of GBP12 (this computer doesn’t have a pound sign 🙂 )  for my domain name, ok its not too much money although I would preferred them to be upfront about this though.

Once I started editing the site, there are some premade templates (about XYZ company, contact us, various similar things) that enable to drop pictures into the suggested layouts which is quite nice.  The editing suite uses Microsoft Office 2007 ribbon style interface which works quite well here, the editing functions do seem logical and pleasant to use.

Then I found out the not so good factors.  I was using a mixture of Microsoft Office 2003 and Open Office Writer 3 to write the text in different style and colour text and copy and paste it into the site.  Because of this I think some information got corrupted cause certain pages to hang.   A typical instance of this would be that when bring up the office live site to edit it, I would just get a permanently spinning please wait symbol.   The way to get round this would be to simply delete the specific page and make a new one with the already save text in hand.   On the main page which would be the default.html site though, it was impossible to delete or edit this.

The really bad point came when I showed a church leader about my plans to go away and the web site came up mostly blank on his Vista based PC running IE7.  This was quite embarrassing, although my fault I should of checked it under several browsers in advance.   It seemed using it on different browsers and different screen resolutions would give a very different view, the neatly tiled collection of photos on my home 20” monitor would become an odd mess on a smaller display.

On the forums of Office Live there’s quite a few other people with this issues, the documentation and a response back from a support agent told me about checking for cookies and other browser settings, (which I had already done.)

Unfortunately these issues remain consistent if I change any aspect of the site on my home or work computers using different browsers or versions of Windows.

I would recommend that businesses do not use this free application it is too unreliable and not standards compliant (like a lot of Microsoft’s other products) making it not easily manageable.

I am finding since updating this blog, I really like WordPress, I can have a web site in a blog format with easily changeable themes and layouts and where as the dashboard interface takes some getting used to and some menu features are not always where you expect to find them, its perfect for any individual or business for casual writings or any kind web site that revolves round a updateable blog.

If you are curious, you can check out the Office live web site maker here

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