For SMBs this last week was always going to be dominated by the release of Office 2010, but in the fuss the beta release of the new Hotmail service has been overlooked by many. Google has also expanded its Google places tag listing to include the entire US after its initial 11 city launch last month.

Microsoft Goes To Beta With New Hotmail

You may remember that last month Microsoft (news, site) announced it was going to resurrect Hotmail by adding some new features. Well as of this week it’s more than just a promise as Microsoft has begun beta testing the new release. It's relatively limited for the moment as it will take some time before it will be applied across all Microsoft servers.

Explaining the tardy roll-out Mike Schackwitz Hotmail program manager said on the Microsoft Windows Team blog that:

Our Hotmail servers are grouped into clusters, and we have hundreds of clusters. We start by upgrading a single cluster, wait to make sure that it's running smoothly and that we didn't miss anything during testing, and then we continue on to the next cluster.”

Microsoft claims 360 million hotmail users who swap 350 million Office documents and 1.5 billion photos every month as many SMBs are using it as their email service.

Last month, when it outlined the new features it would be adding it listed a “sweep “ function that would help users manage email boxes as well as integration with the new Web Apps.

Google Expands Reach Of Places Tags

More follow-up to news from last month. You may remember that Google introduced local tags that gave small businesses the possibility of enhancing their Google search listing on both and Google Maps.

The new service, for a US $25 monthly fee, enabled small businesses to add a yellow tag with information about the business and a map to their search. However, at the time the tags were limited to 11 US cities.

This week though, they’ve announced plans to expand the trial to the entire country. The rollout will start with states where tags are already available in select cities (California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Washington and Colorado). Listings will be updated as additional states go live.

In addition, tags now appear on mobile web searches, while Posts -- a new kind of Tag that enables business owners to create a custom message --  is also live. These messages can be changed as often as the business owner wants.

However, there would seem to be a little bit of confusion as to what exactly the US $25 does as Google also warned that tags do not affect the ranking of the listings on search pages.

New Cloud-storage Release From Asigra

For SMBs with storage issues, Toronto-based Asigra has just released Asigra Cloud Backup v10. The latest edition extends the reach and performance of the Asigra platform across the broadest range of computing environments, from small businesses to the Global 100.