I can’t help but be excited about the incredible new capabilities we’ll be offering to businesses and organizations around the world with Office 365. As we look forward to our next generation cloud productivity service, I thought I’d share a few snippets from early reviews that capture just how much of a game-changer this technology will be.
|First Look: Microsoft's Office 365 Will Shake Up IT, Edward F. Moltzen, CRN|
|Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has turned the heart and soul of day-to-day computing over to the cloud in a manner that every enterprise, business or government entity can access in a meaningful way. And it’s done so in a way that should embarrass Google (NSDQ: GOOG), one of Microsoft’s primary rivals. Office 365, frankly, is to Google Apps as XBOX 360 Live is to Pong. It’s in a different league entirely and represents a leap into the next generation of computing.|
Many small businesses have grown accustomed to Office and some have even tried Microsoft Online Services, yet many more haven’t had the money or expertise that large enterprises have to deploy leading technologies such as Lync, SharePoint and Exchange. Now all that changes.
|Office 365 for Everyone, Paul Thurrott, Windows IT Pro|
|Your needs and experiences will differ, of course, but based on my time with Office 365, I see this as a revolution of sorts for smaller businesses in particular because it really provides them with a way to bridge the technical gap between their needs and their inability to afford or handle a complex, on-premises IT infrastructure.|
For small business customers, Google Apps cost $5 per user per month, while Office 365 costs just $6 per user per month. For the price of a cup of coffee, these businesses get enterprise-grade capabilities and the familiarity of Office in a cloud service, all backed by Microsoft. The ability to get the world’s leading productivity tools at an incredible value has people talking.
|Office 365 Virtually Pays For Itself, Tony Bradley, PCWorld|
|Starting at $6 per seat per month, Office 365 is almost a no-brainer for small and medium companies. Organizations with fewer than 50 users typically don't have a dedicated IT administrator, and lack both the skills and the budget to implement and maintain the infrastructure necessary to deliver what Office 365 does. For a paltry $72 per user per year, these companies get the benefit of Exchange e-mail, Lync instant messaging, SharePoint collaboration, and the Office Web Apps productivity suite.|
While cost savings are critically important for small businesses that are navigating the current economic climate, price isn’t the only reason why companies will choose Office 365. In the conversations I’ve had with customers about their collaboration needs; it’s not unusual to hear horror stories. Mishaps occur due to version control when emailing documents. People often lose productivity in time spent waiting for coworkers to complete edits to a document before another employee can add their own. Lync will offer these customers welcome relief and an important tool for streamlining communication and collaboration. We’re not alone in this sentiment. Kaplan of Fox News notes how we use Lync day-to-day:
|Microsoft Office 365: Another Ray or Light From the Cloud, Jeremy Kaplan, FoxNews|
|Office 365 brings many new features to the table as well, most notably Microsoft Lync, the proto instant messaging client that integrates directly into Office 2007 or 2010 and brings “presence” to your office apps. As you’re writing an email, you’ll see the Lync button light up to indicate a co-worker is online, and available for a quick chat: “Before I email the boss, did we really want cornflower-blue icons?”|
Interested in the services, small businesses are asking about getting up and running. Let’s turn back to CRN for some perspective from their one week evaluation.
|First Look: Microsoft's Office 365 Will Shake up IT, Edward F. Moltzen, CRN|
|It takes about 5 minutes to set up an SMB enterprise productivity and collaboration infrastructure on Office 365, and about a minute to add users and tailor their permissions and access.|
Having access to new capabilities at an amazing value isn’t helpful if small businesses lack the expertise to deploy them. Easy to use administrative tools in Office 365 enable small business to add and subtract users as needed, in addition to designating their permissions.
|Office 365 Beta Proves Promising, P. J. Connolly, eWeek|
|The management functions of Office 365 are relatively straightforward. The Web-based front end allows IT staff to add users one at a time, or in bulk, through the upload of a CSV file containing details such as names, email addresses and phone numbers. Users can be defined as regular users, service administrators or user management administrators, depending on their roles in the organization.|
As anticipation for the launch of Office 365 grows, we’re encouraged by the tremendous interest we’ve seen in the beta. Stay tuned and stay in touch as launch approaches.