Microsoft announces Office 365, a new service that brings familiar applications, including Office desktop software and Office Web Apps, together with SharePoint, Exchange and Lync in the cloud, for the first time.
In October 2010, Microsoft unveiled a new product offering called Office 365. While the Office 365 brand is new, the actual products behind it are not – Microsoft Office (the most popular productivity software in the world), Microsoft Exchange (email, calendar, contacts, collaboration, etc.), Microsoft SharePoint (web-based collaboration), and Microsoft Lync (instant messaging, conferencing, telephony, etc.). The most important distinction is that Office 365 is a cloud-based solution and offers options that are a good fit for businesses of all sizes. In Microsoft’s words, “Office 365 is more than a new brand. It’s a progressive approach to cloud applications,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division. “We designed Office 365 to work for a business of one – or a business of one million and one.”
Office 365 is not the first time Microsoft has provided cloud-based productivity solutions. BPOS, Business Productivity Online Suite, which included Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online is Microsoft’s current cloud business productivity suite. Office 365 will be Microsoft’s marquee cloud solution, updating the technologies in BPOS, Office Live Small Business, Live@edu (hosted email, calendar, and contacts for educational institutions), and Office Web Apps. The key difference in Office 365 is that Microsoft is consolidating these formerly disconnected services under a single brand and a single scaling pricing and licensing structure. From a customer’s standpoint, Microsoft is simplifying their menu of options while increasing the flexibility that customers have in choosing the package that is right for them.
Microsoft has been working to move their business productivity solutions into the cloud for years, all while dealing with rapid advancements in the cloud space by competitors such as Google (Google Apps) and IBM (LotusLive). Cloud solutions offer huge benefits to Microsoft and its competitors. Cloud solutions reduce the cost of producing software products because there is no physical product to manufacture, ship, sell, etc.. Cloud solutions improve the ability of a software developer to make incremental changes and improvements (particularly security patches) to their software without maintaining a costly infrastructure to deliver updates to locally-installed software products. And, of course, cloud solutions offer a source of recurring revenue to software companies because they now charge for software on a subscription basis.
The benefits of cloud solutions are not only for the manufacture; customer can reap huge rewards as well. With Office 365, Microsoft can provide their technology to customers on a more frequent basis, while customers save money at the same time – typically anywhere from 10-50% when considering licensing, administrative costs, etc. Today, the average mid-sized company only upgrades Office every six to seven years. With Office 365, they can always be on the cusp of the next wave in productivity-boosting technology.
Consider a small sample of the benefits of cloud solutions.
- Less in-house IT infrastructure reduces cost, complexity, and risk.
- Reduced burden of tracking software licenses; you only pay for what you need, and all licenses are tracked based on your online purchase.
- Lowered administrative burden of locally-installed software; you no longer need to worry about when or if you should upgrade Office to the next major version, how much the upgrade will cost, how much of an impact and downtime the upgrade will impose on your staff, whether or not you have all the latest security patches applied, etc.
- Your data is protected, private, and secure at all times. Consider this: is your data more protected and secure on a server in the office with tape or disk backups, or in one of Microsoft’s geo-redundant industry-leading data centers at multiple locations across the globe?
Microsoft understands that customers want choices. With Office 365, Microsoft offers a range of options from basic email for $2 per user per month to a complete enterprise solution for $27 per user per month that includes full Office Professional Plus desktop software, along with Office Web Apps; the most advanced versions of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online; 24×7 phone support; advanced IT administrative controls; and on-premises use rights for voice. Microsoft is not limiting customers’ choice by restricting higher-end options to a minimum license purchase; even sole proprietors can opt for the enterprise-level Office 365 and enjoy all its benefits.
Office 365 is currently in very limited beta. Microsoft Partners, such as Colden Company, are learning about the service and rapidly getting up to speed on behalf of their customers. When available, Colden Company can assist your business in migrating to Office 365 and administering it on an ongoing basis, allowing you to focus on your business and less on your technology. For more information, visit the Office 365 website or read the Office 365 press release.
If you’re interested in Office 365 or any other Microsoft technologies mentioned in this newsletter, Colden Company can help. Please contact us at 518-885-2857, toll-free at 888-600-4560, email to email@example.com, or on Twitter for assistance with Microsoft or any of your business computing needs.