Microsoft Teams With GoDaddy On Small Business-Focused Office 365 Bundles

Microsoft and GoDaddy on Monday unveiled a "long-term strategic partnership" under which the Web hosting provider will pitch Office 365 to its small business customers in the U.S. and Canada.

The partnership will let small businesses buy and run bundles of Office 365 and cloud storage under their own personalized domain name, John Case, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, said in a blog post Monday.

Customers that buy the Office 365 bundles will also get access to GoDaddy's 24/7 live customer support. As is often the case with small business-focused products and services, the idea here is to give small businesses the polished, professional sheen of a larger organization.

[Related: Microsoft Partners In Uproar Over Cloud Sales Commission Cuts ]

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GoDaddy is offering three different Office 365 plans. The cheapest, called Email Essentials, includes domain-based email and document storage and is priced at $3.99 per user monthly.

The other two, based on Microsoft’s Small Business and Small Business Premium subscriptions, are priced at $8.99 and $12.49 per user per month respectively.

With the new Office 365 plans, Microsoft and GoDaddy are targeting a portion of the market that until recently would have been served by Microsoft's Small Business Specialist partners. But after Microsoft's discontinuation of Small Business Server last year, and the retiring of its Small Business Specialist Community program this past November, partner enthusiasm in this segment isn't what it used to be.

Spencer Ferguson, president and CEO of Wasatch I.T., a Salt Lake City-based partner, said while the Microsoft-GoDaddy partnership won't have much impact on his business, he's still "perplexed" by the move.

"While Microsoft continues to be our core vendor, I can see why solution providers are seeking alternatives," Ferguson said in an email. "It is hard to understand why Microsoft continues to make moves that alienate its OEM and VAR partners."

Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, a Manalapan, N.J.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN he's still reeling from the news that Microsoft is going to be cutting Office 365 commissions for some partners.

"The outlook just looks terrible for Microsoft partners. I don’t get it," Harrison said in an email.

Another factor behind the Office 365 partnership is that GoDaddy CEO Blake Irvin spent more than 14 years at Microsoft and was vice president of the Windows Live Platform group.

"The relationship between GoDaddy and Microsoft executives certainly helped start the conversation," Steven Aldrich, senior vice president of GoDaddy, told the Seattle Times.