Microsoft and RIM could be about to unveil a free Hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), similar to Apple's MobileMe consumer service for business users.

The new service will be available to BlackBerry business customers using Microsoft's hosted email service, Exchange 2010 Online.

Currently, Exchange users can use a Microsoft-hosted BES for $10 a month; this is set to be replaced by the new collaboration which will be free for existing users – it's not clear if new users will be charged or not.

Cloudy with a chance of suits

The existing software incorporates wireless access to email, calendar, tasks and contacts with global address list integration, as well as allowing users to remotely wipe and reset their handsets.

There's no indication yet on whether the new, free version will include any additional features though.

Microsoft's cloud platform, Office 365, is also rumoured to be launching in June and may cause issues for the new hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Service, according to one source.

This source told ZDNet, "RIM is only mobile OS that doesn't use (Microsoft) ActiveSync-aware devices and has a separate device management platform - the BES environment. Most large enterprise customers run an on-premise BES server to get the advanced device management."

From ZDNet