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Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft debuted an enhanced version of their cloud-based office productivity suite called Office 365 on Tuesday, October 19, 2010.  Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS)--no making fun of the last three letters--has been available since 2009.  It is a cloud computing version of Microsoft's communication and collaboration back-end software and includes Exchange Online (mail, contacts, calendar, tasks), SharePoint Online (document sharing, intranet news and information, and team sites), and Office Communication Server Online (unified communication including instant messaging, telepresence, and online meetings--to be renamed Lync).  Microsoft announced that they are added Office Web Apps, cloud versions of their desktop productivity suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.  With those addition and the addition of public web sites, Microsoft renamed the suite Office 365.  Office 365 also replaces Office Live Small Business.

Photo and video editing are included in the list of Web Apps, but those are not functions in the traditional Office suites.  

In typical cloud computing style, Office Web Apps can be used virtually anywhere on any device using the web browser.  Office 365 is running always-current updates to the Microsoft software.

Co-authoring allows editing the same document at the same time with others (both inside and outside your organization) without having multiple versions or waiting your turn.

Office Web Apps are designed to be fully compatible with Microsoft Office, thus they are familiar to users without training.

Microsoft offers a financially-backed 99.9% uptime service level agreement (SLA).  The data is stored on geo-redundant, enterprise-grade data centers with automatic failover.  Antivirus and anti-spam protection for e-mail is included.  The data centers are SAS 70 and ISO 27001 certified.

Office 365 is a subscription service   Small Businesses (under 25 employees) can get just Office Web Apps without having to subscribe to SharePoint Online and Lync Online.  Microsoft offers a range of options from basic e-mail for $2 per user per month to a complete solution for $27 per user per month.

In response to questions about whether Office Web Apps really run in the cloud and what happens when you do not have Internet access, Microsoft responded "With Office 365, Office desktop apps are downloaded, managed and updated via the cloud, but they run locally on your PC."

Availability is scheduled for sometime in 2011.

Microsoft Office 365 is now real competition for Google Docs.  Office 365 offers enterprise-caliber applications you can trust.  Google Docs includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations, but also have drawings and forms.  Google Docs drawings is similar to Microsoft Visio and forms is similar to InfoPath.  Microsoft has not yet said that these Office products will be available online.  There is no equivalent of Microsoft Publisher available in the cloud via Office 365 or Google Docs.

Microsoft Office 365 - OFFICIAL

More information is available at the brand new Office365 web site or Office365 blog.

If you would like to know more about how cloud computing can save your company money or increase efficiency, contact us.

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