WebCentral, Peakhour and Unisys have joined Microsoft's local ASP pilot program to offer the Office and BackOffice product suites under rental terms.
The announcement follows a three-way global agreement between Microsoft, Compaq, and Cable & Wireless Optus in which each of the local subsidiaries will develop a broader ASP offering.
The three new members join pilot program partners Telstra and Tequinox in Microsoft's Applications Services Licensing Pilot Program, which was launched earlier this year.
Designed specifically to offer ASPs the opportunity to give Australian customers access to Microsoft's Office and BackOffice products, the commercial service is expected to be available later this year.
For Unisys, the licensing agreement with Microsoft will become its first ASP service within its portal Smart Region.
According to Wally Beadman, Queensland state manager for Unisys, Smart Region is Unisys' integrated portal for local communities and businesses.
"The strong relationship between Unisys and Microsoft will add great value to Unisys' Smart Region project," he said.
The agreement extends the service offerings of both Peakhour and WebCentral.
Peakhour, which offers SMEs a fully integrated suite of products through a single sign-on, secure application portal, can now add Microsoft to its list of applications. WebCentral, which supplies internet hosting solutions, can now offer an ASP platform including hardware, management, housing of the service and Microsoft products.
"Through Microsoft's Licensing Pilot Program, customers will have access to, and be able to choose from, the best ASPs in the country offering Microsoft's Office and BackOffice product suite," Kevin Rodrigo, Microsoft Australia's network solutions group manager, said.
"While the benefits of centrally managed Microsoft messaging and integration software through the ASP offering will appeal to many different kinds of businesses, we believe that this model will have particular interest for small-to-medium businesses," he said.
The ASP Licensing Pilot Program, or Office Online Pilot Program, was launched in the US last November and in Australia in March to trial different delivery scenarios of Office 2000 over the internet.