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Microsoft launches Task Market for Office jocks

The online marketplace for jobs that can be done on Office applications is like Elance, but just for work requiring the skilled use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

Two Microsoft research groups, Microsoft Research Asia and Microsoft Office Labs, have launched Task Market, an online marketplace for jobs that can be done on Office applications.

Like Elance, oDesk, and other piecework job sites, Task Market is a marketplace for people with skills and time--and those that need them.

Task Market is focused on very specific, and nontechnical jobs. At the moment, the only job categories allowed on the site are writing, editing, translation, and basic design. Why not programming or scripting or multimedia editing? Because, as the FAQ says, "By focusing on tasks accomplished using applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access, Task Market makes it quicker and easier for small businesses to get their job done."

Of course, Webware recommends Web-based productivity suites (like Google Docs) for team editing and collaboration, but there's as yet no marketplace service for Google like Task Market. Anybody want to build one?

Each job in Task Market has its own discussion thread, in which bidders for the job can communicate with the person who wants it done. There doesn't appear to be a way to contact individuals privately, though, which is odd. Users (both contractors and customers) get ratings--just like on eBay--once a task is complete.

Task Market is a simple and clear service for finding document-based tasks for hire.

Task Market lets employers specify the fee they're willing to pay for a job, and all payments go through eBay's PayPal.

Task Market's big benefit right now is that it is very simple to get into. It's easy to post a job, and it's easy to scan the available tasks. More mature services, such as oDesk, provide better job-tracking services, as well as more options for users to promote themselves and set up teams.

The site, still in "tech preview," and has few jobs on it.