(WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW) -- In what some anticipate will challenge Google's suite of online productivity tools, Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) is bringing together its business and collaboration offerings under the new Microsoft Office 365 brand, which combines the strengths of Office desktop software and Office Web Apps, together with SharePoint, Exchange and recently released unified communications offering Lync Online.
According to Microsoft’s announcement this week, Office 365 will replace Office Live Small Business, Live@edu, and the company’s subscription-based messaging and collaboration product known as Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite or BPOS.
“Office 365 is more than a new brand,” Microsoft Office Division president Kurt DelBene said in a statement. “It’s a progressive approach to cloud applications. We designed Office 365 to work for a business of one - or a business of one million and one.”
Office 365 will let companies scale their infrastructure quickly. If, for instance, a business makes an acquisition, opens a new store or holds a holiday promotion, it will be able to rapidly expand its infrastructure in days, not months - while only using and paying for what’s needed. Some individuals will only have basic email, while others will have mobile applications, and others full versions of Exchange and SharePoint, based on the requirements of their roles.
The proposed pricing for small businesses - with 1 to 25 employees is $6 (or €5.25 or ¥600) per user per month, and enterprises pay between $2 and $27 per month per user, depending on the business' needs.
Microsoft said Office 365 will be available worldwide next year, and will expand to provide new services to new audiences. Later next year Microsoft said it will introduce Office 365 for education for students, faculty and school staff, and Dynamics CRM Online will join the Office 365 family of services next year, giving customers a even more complete business productivity experience.
Microsoft announced a limited Office 365 beta program with enrolment starting on October 19 at noon Pacific Time.
The company also said that it would offer Office 365 as a service that its technology partners can resell, and use to customize and enhance existing applications and services. “Partners are central to our strategy with Office 365,” Microsoft Office division senior vice president Chris Capossela said in a statement. “A vibrant partner community is critical to ensure our customers get the most from Office 365, and that’s why we’re investing deeply to provide partners with a clear path to success in the cloud.”