Microsoft will replace bCentral with a Microsoft Small Business Centre website.
The Microsoft small business centre will offer all the information and services found on bCentral, but add detailed information on Microsoft products for small businesses such as Office Small Business Edition and Windows Small Business Server.
Microsoft hoped the new name will raise the profile of the service for small businesses. bCentral had little to no brand awareness, the company said.
The US version of bCentral includes web hosting and online marketing help. bCentral has attracted about two million registered users worldwide, but did not deliver what small businesses were looking for, such as detailed information on specific products.
Small Business Centre will be offered globally and fill the gaps in Microsoft's communication with small businesses. After starting the introduction in the UK, Canada, Australia and Japan this month, the site will be introduced in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the US in the second half of this year.
The transition from bCentral to Microsoft Small Business Centre should be seamless for existing users. The service should be online in 40 countries by mid-2005 and bCentral will be phased out in each country after the introduction of Small Business Centre.
The UK versions of Small Business Centre is online at: www.microsoft.com/uk/businesscentral/
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service