Office 365

December 12th, 2010 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

Microsoft plans to unleash a ‘take-no-prisoners’ assault on the market with Office 365. -  offering a full suite that combines online versions of the 2010 editions of Exchange, Office, Sharepoint and Lync,

“Microsoft is linking its crown jewels, the most valuable parts of the company’s product line, and evolving them with the cloud, another sign of how serious they are about this,” said Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner.

Snide putdowns by rivals like Google and sharp criticism of industry analysts charging the company with being out of touch with the cloud delivery model were  common last year. Twelve months later, things have changed.

In 2010, Microsoft delivered regular upgrades and new features for its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting.  In the summer, in addition to Office 2010, Microsoft also introduced Office Web Apps, a hosted office suite designed to compete against the likes of Google Docs through Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

And the icing on the cake came in October, when Microsoft outlined the next version of BPOS, called Office 365: a full-fledged option to Google Apps and other similar cloud-based suites that combines the collaboration and communication elements of BPOS with Office Web Apps and, alternatively, even with Office 2010. It is the broad cloud suite that experts have predicted for years Microsoft could build — and rock the market if priced and configured correctly.

Although Office 365 is in limited beta testing and won’t be widely available until some point in 2011, its announcement changes the landscape. CIOs and IT chiefs evaluating cloud collaboration, productivity and communication suites will have a unified alternative from Microsoft, a leading vendor of this type of software for on-premise deployments for over a decade. Eventually, Office 365 will also include Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Competition in the market continues from rivals like Google, IBM/Lotus, Cisco, Novell, Jive, Socialtext, Zimbra, Yammer, Box.net and Zoho, but Microsoft may have a winner in its hands.

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