Microsoft as today cut the ribbon on the official release of its cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365.
Aimed at businesses rather than individuals, the service comprises Exchange Online (for email and calendars), SharePoint Online (for online collaboration), Lync Online (for text, audio and video messaging and conferencing), plus browser-based versions of Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint in addition to the traditional installed versions.
Priced between $2 and $27 per user per month, Microsoft is targeting enterprise customers, small businesses and the education market with Office 365. Microsoft is promising updates to the service every 90 days.
Microsoft’s clear rival here, of course, is Google. Office 365′s Digital Marketing Lead for Office365 just cheekily tweeted “Interesting…Serving up lots of site requests for Office365.com from certain IP range in Mtn. View,” suggesting that Google is keen to check out the official, out-of-beta version of the service. However, as our own Microsoft specialist Alex Wilhelm recently noted, Google Docs is still some way ahead of the cloud-based Office suite in terms of functionality.
Microsoft has announced the launch of Office 365 in India to offer easy access to cost effective business productivity solutions on the cloud. This novel service will enable the enterprises to use Microsoft Office- including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email and other software on a pay-per-use model.
Office 365 is built ground up with an updated platform and new infrastructure investments and is backed by the industry’s most rigorous financially backed SLA, and will be available in different ‘packages’ in 40 countries depending on the size and need of the customer organization. These plans start for as little as $2 for basic e-mail to $27 per user per month, allowing SMEs and enterprise customers to access Microsoft’s popular e-mail, collaboration, conferencing and productivity capabilities online. This includes the most advanced versions of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online as well as an option to get the full power of Office Professional Plus desktop software, along with Office Web Apps.
The Office 365 plan for Small Businesses is optimized for organizations with 25 users or less and includes Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online at approximately $6 per user per month.
This launch is part of Microsoft’s comprehensive Cloud Services Strategy. Almost all of Microsoft’s on premise enterprise solutions are already on the cloud, and the launch of Office 365 takes it to the next level. Microsoft’s customers can choose to deploy either cloud based or on premise solutions, or both, depending on their need, and in turn experience the flexibility and cost control needed to drive higher business productivity.
SaaS or “on-demand software,” is a model in which software and its associated data are hosted centrally (typically in the cloud), and accessed using a web browser over the Internet. Cloud computing facilitates sharing of technological resources, software and digital information. Since this technology is internet-based, data and solutions can be accessed from anywhere using a browser. It is this market Microsoft is eyeing with the new product.
In the coming months, Microsoft Office 365 will also provide significant opportunities to a huge ecosystem of partners that will sell, customise and provide consulting, migration and managed services for Microsoft Online Services to Indian small and medium businesses.
Microsoft Office 365 provides all of the familiar enterprise class productivity solutions on a flexible usage and payment model, delivering streamlined communication with high availability, comprehensive security and simplified IT management. Customers who have already started using the services are realizing savings from reduced hardware, software and operational costs.