As I have been traveling around, as well as my counterparts, talking with partners about Office 365; a common theme has arisen.
“What about my existing BPOS customers?”
First I hope you are aware of the Office 365 transition center, which will be your one stop shop for ongoing guidance and discussion about the transition.
Second, here is the FAQ Word document available for download at the transition center:
Q. What is Office 365?
Microsoft Office 365 delivers the power of cloud productivity to businesses of all sizes, helping to save time, money and free up valued resources. Office 365 combines the familiar Office desktop suite with online versions of Microsoft’s next generation communications and collaboration services: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. With Office 365 we provide services that are easy to administer and simple to use – always backed up by robust security, reliability and control to run your business.
Q. When will Office 365 be available to customers?
Office 365 will be available for purchase in 2011. Please note that existing customers must be transitioned to Office 365 before it is available to them. Transition to Office 365 will be available to existing BPOS customers soon after availability of Office 365. Microsoft will work with all existing BPOS customers to determine the best time for the customer’s business to make the transition.
Q. What services and tools are included in Office 365?
Office 365 includes: Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online and the latest version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop suite.
Q. Is Office 365 still BPOS?
Office 365 is the introduction of new online services and capabilities, new user experiences, and new online platform capabilities related to the introduction of new underlying “2010” server software into Microsoft Online Services datacenters as well as other major new service and platform investments. The name may be new and includes new offerings, but you are subscribed to the same service – just significantly enhanced. It will just give you a lot more features and functionality once you make the transition.
Q. I am not on BPOS now. Should I wait for Office 365?
The benefits of Microsoft Online Services are realized as soon as services are deployed, whether on BPOS or Office 365. Customers who do decide to purchase BPOS now should deploy BPOS with the new system requirements to make the transition experience as smooth as possible.
Q. Can I choose when I go to Office 365?
Yes. One of the key values of online services is that customers have access to the latest and greatest service capabilities and features without having to maintain or upgrade server infrastructure. However, Microsoft understands that customers also need the flexibility to choose when they adopt significant changes to an online service. For any major service update customers will have up to twelve (12) months from the availability of the service update to make the transition. Starting early next year, Microsoft will reach out to all customers to schedule the customer transition to Office 365.
Q. When I make the transition to Office 365, what do I have to do and what will Microsoft do?
Microsoft is responsible for any changes that happen in its datacenters. Customers will not have to migrate any data. Customers will be responsible for making sure that their client software is compliant with the system requirements discussed above. Customers will also be responsible for end-user training and configuring any new features and capabilities that will be delivered by Office 365.
Q. What are the system requirements of Office 365?
Office 365 will have new system requirements that customers and partners should note. Those requirements are as follows:
Operating System Requirements
o Windows XP SP3
o Windows XP Home is supported but will not support federated identity
o Windows Media Center edition is supported but will not support federated identity
o Windows Vista SP2
o Windows 7
o Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
Office Client Requirements
o Office 2007 SP2 or Office 2010
o Office 2008 for Mac & Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition
o Office 2011 for Mac and Outlook 2011 for Mac
o .NET 2.0 or later
o Lync 2010
o Communicator for Mac
o A service connector application that will replace the Sign in application. The download will be available in the coming months.
Browser Requirements – Administration Center and My Company Portal
o Internet Explorer 7 or above
o Firefox 3.x
o Safari 4.x
Browser Requirements – Outlook Web App
o Internet Explorer 7 or above
o Firefox 3 or higher
o Safari 3 or higher on Macintosh OS X 10.5
o Chrome 3 and later versions
o Outlook Web App also has a light version that supports a reduced set of features across almost any browser
Q. What has changed between the current BPOS system requirements and the new system requirements of Office 365?
The key changes in system requirements are:
· Office 2003 is not supported
· Office Communicator 2007 R2 with Office Communications Online will no longer be supported
· Internet Explorer 6 with the Microsoft Online Administration Center, My Company Portal or Outlook Web App will no longer be supported
Q. Why have system requirements changed?
Office 365 will be built on the latest server software and a re-architected identity infrastructure to support all the new features and capabilities that will be delivered. Some older versions of end-user software are simply unable to connect or interact with Office 365 in a way that would provide a good user experience.
Q: Office Communicator 2007 R2 is my standard currently. How do I continue to use Communicator with Office 365?
With Office 365 the new Lync 2010 client will be required.
Q. Can I upgrade my clients now?
Yes. Microsoft recommends that existing BPOS customers consider upgrading to the new platform clients requirements as soon as it is practicable to make the transition experience as smooth as possible.
Q. Does BPOS service support Office 2010 now?
Yes. BPOS supports Office 2010 now.
Q. Why is Office 2003 not supported?
Outlook 2003 was designed and built for an environment where servers are maintained locally within an organization and not part of a cloud service. Outlook 2003 does not support features and functionality that depend on the re-architected identity infrastructure and newer server architecture available in Office 365. Given these changes, Outlook 2003 cannot provide an acceptable end-user experience when connected to Office 365.
In contrast, Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 have been designed to work with cloud services and support the cloud services’ architecture.
Q. Why is Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) not supported?
Office 365 is built on the latest server software and a re-architected identity infrastructure to support all the new features and capabilities that will be delivered. IE6 is incapable of rendering some upcoming elements of the Office 365 platform.
Q. Will Office 365 support Office Web Apps?
Yes. Office Web Apps will be a capability of SharePoint Online. However, not all Office 365 offerings will include Office Web Apps.
Q. Will I be able to subscribe to Office?
Yes. A subscription pricing model for Office will be available called Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop suite.
Q. Will Office 365 still require the Sign In application?
No. Office 365 will not require the Sign In application. Microsoft will offer a service connector application that will automate configuration of end-user computers for Office 365, but the service connector will not be required after initial configuration.
Q. Will Office 365 require ANY special software on end-user computers?
Microsoft will provide free of charge a Services Connector that will automate configuration of end-user computers and download and install any required patches and updates to end-user software such as Microsoft Office, Windows and Internet Explorer.
Q. Will Microsoft give more guidance about getting to Office 365?
Yes. Microsoft will start communicating with customers and partners about transitioning to Office 365 in the fall of 2010. Stay tuned for email communications as well as communications in the Microsoft Online Administration Center , the Microsoft Online Services Team Blog and the Deploying BPOS page for more information and guidance from Microsoft.
Q. Can I decide not to transition to Office 365 after twelve (12) months from the availability of the service update?
No. Customers must make the transition to Office 365 within twelve (12) months of availability to the customer.
Q. Once I know when I want to go to Office 365, how will the process work?
Starting now, Microsoft will proactively communicate with customers to determine when customers want to transition to Office 365. Microsoft will give customers generous advance notice of the availability of Office 365 and will communicate with customers clearly what the transition process will look like. Starting next year, Microsoft will reach out to every customer and work with the customer to select the customer’s desired transition date.
Q. Can I choose to transition to Office 365 in phases? Or will I be transitioned all at once?
Customers can transition in two phases: the pilot phase and the full transition. A pilot phase will be offered where customers can move some user mailboxes to Office 365 as well as view a read-only copy of their SharePoint site collections with Office 365 enabled. Once the customer is satisfied with the pilot experience they will complete the full transition at their scheduled transition date.
Q. What can I do to get ready for Office 365?
Customers should take the following steps to start preparing for Office 365:
· For each subscription that a customer has, make sure that contact details for both the “Account Owner” and “Service Administrator” are up-to-date.
o “Account Owner” and “Service Administrator” can be checked at the Microsoft Online Customer Portal (https://mocp.microsoftonline.com) by clicking the “Subscriptions” tab and “View Subscription Details” in the “Actions” column
o Make sure that the email accounts specified for “Account Owner” and “Service Administrator” are monitored regularly.
o Make sure that the domain “@email.microsoftonline.com” is marked as safe, to prevent the possibility of communications from Microsoft Online Services being blocked or filtered.
· Assess your current client environment and determine if you need to upgrade any client software.
The free Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit can assist customers in inventorying client software in their local environment: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb977556.aspx
· Understand the two different identity scenarios that Office 365 will offer: federated identity using ADFS (single sign-on for end users) or a managed identity scenario (end users have separate credentials for BPOS)
· Consider upgrading clients to meet the new system requirements now
· Stay tuned for email communications as well as communications in the Microsoft Online Administration Center, the Microsoft Online Services Team Blog and the Deploying BPOS page for more information and guidance from Microsoft.
Q. As an existing customer, what are my options for trying Office 365.
After general availability, existing customers have two options for trying Office 365:
· Trial: existing customers can subscribe to a trial account of Office 365. However, please note that customers will not be able to merge a trial account on Office 365 with their existing BPOS account.
· Pilot: A pilot phase will be offered where customers can move some user mailboxes to Office 365 as well as view a read-only copy of their SharePoint site collections with Office 365 enabled. Data in the pilot can be preserved after the customer transitions to Office 365.
Q. Will I have to pay more for Office 365?
No. Office 365 will not change anything related to your subscription pricing, contracts, agreements or account status with one exception – the SharePoint Online Deskless Worker offering will be phased out. Microsoft will contact all customers who are subscribed to the SharePoint Online Deskless Worker offering with more information.
While you will have the opportunity to explore different and new offerings after your transition to Office 365, your pricing will not change unless you decide to switch to a different offering after your transition.
Q. What will happen to my SharePoint Online Deskless Worker USLs?
Microsoft will contact all customers who are subscribed to the SharePoint Online Deskless Worker offering with more information.
Q. Can I buy services or seats on the next service update when it becomes available, even if I have not transitioned my existing service?
You will be unable to purchase services or seats with your existing domain and purchasing identity on Office 365 until you transition your existing service. You can create a new account in the customer portal and purchase services using a different domain name. But you will be unable to “merge” any subscriptions purchased on Office 365 before your transition with your existing subscriptions.
Q. After Office 365 is generally available, can I still buy seats or new subscriptions on the current service before I transition?
Yes. Customers who have not transitioned can continue to buy seats and new subscriptions after general availability of Office 365. However, note that none of the features of Office 365 will be available to existing customers until you transition to Office 365.
What should you do next:
- Microsoft Online Services will be sending important email communications about the transition to your technical contact email. Learn how to check and update.
- Download the transition checklist available at the Office 365 transition center; might want to bookmark it as well since it will be your one stop shop for ongoing guidance and discussion about the transition.
- If you have questions that you want to ask of other customers or Microsoft subject matter experts, head over to the transition forum on TechNet.