Microsoft, as expected, discontinued its Office Live Small Business suite of cloud-based services on May 1, replacing that offering with Microsoft Office 365. All access to the OLSB service and public Web sites is ending, the company says.

Microsoft first announced that OLSB would be replaced by Office 365 in October 2010, and launched Office 365 in June 2011, according to a company spokesman.

“We have communicated directly with OLSB users via email, the OLSB community, the OLSB Web site and through notifications in the service to help them transition to Office 365 or another provider,” the spokesman says. “We have provided comprehensive guidance, videos and support to make the transition from OLSB to Office 365 or another provider as straightforward as possible.”

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based offering specifically designed for organizations with one to 25 employees (with a technical limit of 50 users maximum). If features email and calendars, Office Web Apps, web conferencing, and file sharing.

The service enables users to access communications and collaboration features from devices including PCs, Macintosh computers, iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry smartphones, Microsoft Windows Mobile, and Windows Phones.

Microsoft has offered OLSB users six months of free Office 365 for professionals and small business and Office Professional Plus to help ease the transition. Office Professional Plus consists of Microsoft Office Web Apps including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote; a spam-filtering email account; document sharing; instant messaging; audio/video calls and online meetings.

Microsoft says it replaced OLSB with Office 365 because small businesses have told the company that they want a more comprehensive, professional-grade set of small business productivity tools.