Early Tuesday, Microsoft officially released Office 365, its new cloud-based Office product designed to compete directly with Google Docs and whatever Apple might decide to put up in conjunction with iCloud and the revamped Mobile Me expected later this year. The Office 365 suite, which has been in public beta for a while, is being mostly targeted at small business and the enterprise with plans for the entire suite costing between $6 and $24 per user per month, depending on features.
The small and medium-sized businesses that choose the more cost effective $6 option will only get Office Web Apps and Microsoft Exchange. Of course, any option you choose with Office 356 is still more expensive than the $50 annual fee Google charges each corporate user for access to its Google Docs suite. The service also included integration with devices such as Windows smartphones and iPhones.
I guess Microsoft must feel that people will be willing to pay a bit more for its suite of products that include Word, Excel and Powerpoint as well as Exchange. In truth, some companies pay quite a bit just for hosted Exchange so this may end up being a bargain for many businesses, especially those who want to stay in the Microsoft world but still try to cut costs.
We’ll see if this one takes off. For more, check out the full press release from Microsoft after the jump.
Microsoft Launches Office 365 Globally
World-class collaboration tools are now available for businesses large and small.
NEW YORK — June 28, 2011 — Today, at media events around the world, Microsoft Corp. announced the availability ofMicrosoft Office 365, the company’s newest cloud service. Office 365 is now available in 40 markets, and it brings together Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync Online in an always-up-to-date cloud service, at a predictable monthly subscription.
The service was introduced in beta last year with enthusiastic response and, in a few months, more than 200,000 organizations signed up and began testing it. Businesses using Office 365 are already reporting impressive results and reducing IT costs by up to an estimated 50 percent while boosting productivity.
Today, more than 20 service providers around the globe also shared plans to bring Office 365 to their customers this year. Bell Canada, Intuit Inc., NTT Communications Corp., Telefonica S.A., Telstra Corp. and Vodafone Group Plc, among others, will package and sell Office 365 with their own services for small and midsize businesses.
“Great collaboration is critical to business growth, and because it’s so important, we believe the best collaboration technology should be available to everyone,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “With a few clicks, Office 365 levels the playing field, giving small and midsize businesses powerful collaboration tools that have given big businesses an edge for years.”
A Game Changer for Businesses of All Sizes
Office 365 is available in a wide range of service plans designed to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, ranging from the largest to the smallest.
With Office 365, people can stay on the “same page” using instant messaging and virtual meetings with people who are just down the hall or across the world. They can work on files and documents at the same time and share ideas as easily as they can share calendars. Office 365 gives people new ways to work together with ease, on virtually any device.
Microsoft Office applications are at the heart of Office 365. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook and other Office applications connect to Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Lync to deliver a world-class solution for communication and collaboration.
“When I saw Office 365, I knew this was the way businesses would work in the future,” said Elia Wallen, owner of fast-growing temporary housing provider Travelers Haven. “With Office 365, I’m going to save $100,000 a year and cut 30 hours of work a day across my 35 employees, but most importantly, my team is going to be able to work together better — no matter where they are.”
More stories from businesses that have tried Office 365 are available athttp://www.microsoft.com/casestudies.
Office 365 Partners
Microsoft is building a massive partner ecosystem around Office 365, including systems integrators, software vendors, resellers and other partners. Today, that ecosystem is expanding as the company partners in new ways with market-leading service providers. These companies will package Office 365 with their own services — from Web hosting and broadband to finance solutions and mobile services — and bring those new offerings to millions of small and midsize businesses globally.
“Our partners represent some of the best-known, most-trusted brands in their local markets,” said Kurt DelBene, president, Microsoft Office Division. “Our customers will be able to rest easy knowing their cloud services are backed by Microsoft and some of the greatest service providers in the world.”
A list of Office 365 service provider partners is available here.
About Office 365
Office 365 offers a range of service plans for a predictable monthly price from $2 to $27 per user per month. With Office 365 for small businesses, customers can be up and running with Office Web Apps, Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online and an external website in minutes, for $6 (U.S.) per user, per month. These tools put enterprise-grade email, shared documents, instant messaging, video and Web conferencing, portals, and more at everyone’s fingertips.
Office 365 for enterprises has an array of choices, from simple email to comprehensive suites to meet the needs of midsize and large businesses, as well as government organizations. Customers can now get Microsoft Office Professional Plus on a pay-as-you-go basis with cloud-based versions of the industry’s leading business communications and collaboration services. Each of these plans comes with the advanced IT controls, innovative security technologies, 24/7 IT support and reliability customers expect from Microsoft.
Office 365 for small businesses and Office 365 for enterprises are available now. Businesses can try Office 365 for free for 30 days by signing up at http://www.office365.com or from their local Microsoft partner. Follow Office 365 on Twitter (@Office365), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/office365) and the Office 365 blog at http://community.office365.comfor the latest information.