Microsoft launched Office 365 in New York City June 28, very conspicuously choosing the same venue it used for Windows 7's debut in October 2009. And as with Windows 7, Microsoft has a lot riding on this particular launch. If Office 365 succeeds with businesses and consumers, it'll help validate the company's choice of an "all in" cloud strategy. If the platform fails, it'll provide an opening for other cloud-software producersmost notably Google, which already offers a cloud-productivity platform with Google Appsto establish themselves in the space. Office 365 is a rebranding of Microsoft's BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), and binds Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online onto a common cloud platform that costs between $2 and $27 per user, per month. On top of that, Microsoft is offering an Office 365 Marketplace with productivity apps and professional services. In sum, Office 365 is meant to provide everything from conferencing to document editing to video editing in one convenient (and accessible) place. There's also a focus on interoperability across multiple devices, including smartphones running Microsoft's Windows Phone. For this release, Microsoft is particularly targeting SMBs, claiming Office 365 will give them a competitive edge without the burden of complex on-premises systems. The question is whether those businesses will find Office 365 durable enough, and feature-filled enough, to meet their needs.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hosted the launch of Office 365 in New York City.
"We believe effective collaboration is a lot more than good group dynamics," Ballmer told the audience. "Its instant access to relevant information ... and the right people taking the right action at the right time."
Microsofts presentation made a point of targeting SMBs as a potential audience for Office 365. According to analysts, Google Apps is particularly popular among smaller organizations, which makes that segment a target if Microsoft wants to blunt Googles momentum in the space.??Ã
Office 365 combines Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online into a platform that costs between $2 and $27 per month.
Microsoft is also emphasizing Office 365s interoperability with mobile devices. Data from Windows Phones, for example, can be seamlessly ported to a laptop running the cloud-based version of Office.
There also is colleague collaboration via Outlook.
Video conferencing and collaboration is another focus of the platform. It remains to be seen how Microsofts recent Skype acquisition will affect these features.
Here is Office 365s dashboard for IT administrators.
Multiple employees can use Office 365 to co-author a document.
Here is the online version of Office. The question here is whether the Web-based versions features will be close enough to parity with the desktop version to draw in users.
Here are Office Web Apps running in Microsoft Office 365.
Office 365 also offers features such as video editing.