Announced earlier this year, software giant Microsoft revealed its future plans to offer the popular Office Suite in a full web-based version, as part of its cloud based business offerings. Office 365, a set of hosted services, is anticipated to arrive in the hands of business users during 2011. This upcoming release would further evolve standard desktop computing’s shift to the web.
Once formally known as the Business Productivity Online Suite, the currently named Office 365 will include the latest generation of Microsoft Office, this time targeted for the cloud. Currently being beta tested by a variety of organizations, the new suite will be the latest on a growing list of technology services to make its way online.
With plans to be offered in two distinct packages, Office 365 for small businesses and Office 365 for enterprises both include a number of Microsoft based business solutions with small business owners, large enterprises, and independent consultants in mind. The offerings will provide solutions for anywhere access to email, documents, contacts, and more – on just about any fixed or mobile device (including Windows Phone, Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry).
Hosted technologies included in both packages include Microsoft Office Professional Plus, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online.
Although the streamlined and recently made available set of Web App companions are included, Office Professional, the standard office suite for many organizations worldwide, will be based on a full feature set found in the desktop versions of Microsoft Office.
Exchange Online allows organizations hosted Exchange services based on Exchange Server 2010, and includes up to date antivirus/spam protection, gratuitous email box and message sizes, and an overall lower cost of ownership.
Document libraries, calendars, task lists, news and more can be easily created using MySites which is based on SharePoint Server technology.
Reminiscent of Microsoft Communicator, Lync Online is a set of services that allow of collaboration through virtual whiteboards, audio and video, instant messaging, and more through both a native and web based client.
Pricing for the different structures vary, and key differences between them include levels of functionality and support with listed technologies. More information can be found at the official Office 365 website.
A third solution, Microsoft Office 365 for education is currently not in Beta, and has its services based on the Windows Live set of technologies and includes 25GB of online disk space, and the Office Web Apps.
The Office 365 website
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