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Microsoft chops price of its hosted software

Redmond says it's cutting by a third the monthly subscription fee for those using a hosted version of Exchange, SharePoint, and Office Communications Server.

Microsoft said Monday that it's cutting by a third the subscription prices for the hosted versions of Exchange, Sharepoint, and Office Communications Server.

The software maker plans to cut the monthly per-user cost of licensing all three products from $15 to $10, while the cost of licensing individual products is also dropping by as much as 50 percent. The move comes as Microsoft faces continued pressure from rivals, including Google.

Capossela Microsoft

Last week, the city of Los Angeles voted to go ahead with a deal to shift many employees to Google Apps from Microsoft Office.

In an interview, Microsoft Vice President Chris Capossela said the move has less to do with competitive pressure than that "it's the price that customers are really excited to buy our suite at."

"We're pretty excited about the price and not so much focused on free services or the price Google or others might charge," Capossela said.

In addition to the price drop, Microsoft is also touting several new customers and announced its plan to bring the year-old Microsoft Online services to more than a dozen new countries.

The company is announcing its commercial launch in Singapore, as well as trials in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Poland, Romania, and Taiwan. Microsoft also expects to have commercial availability in India later this year.

Among the new customers are McDonalds, Aon, Lions Gate Entertainment, and Rexel Group. They join existing customers, such as Blockbuster, Coca-Cola and Autodesk as those paying Microsoft to run hosted versions of its products. Microsoft formally launched Microsoft Online at a San Francisco event a year ago.

Next week, Microsoft will also formally launch Exchange 2010 at its TechEd Berlin developer event. Microsoft said last month that it had finalized the product. Traditionally, Microsoft has developed products first as a server and only later, if at all, customized them to run in hosted form.

Exchange 2010, though, was designed first as an online service and then crafted into a product that businesses can run on their own servers.