Looks like Microsoft’s ubiquitous productivity software is about to be going into the cloud, as Office 365 has been announced for testing with global availability planned for sometime next year.
Not to be confused with the free Office Web Apps that allow basic editing of files using lightweight online versions of OneNote, Word and Excel, Office 365 is intended to be a full cloud-based Office productivity environment.
Microsoft worked closely with existing customers to develop Office 365, resulting in a cloud service that is designed to meet a wide range of customer needs.
The Office 365 package – currently set to begin testing in 13 business markets – includes SharePoint, Lync Online, Exchange and the Office System itself (or business-targeted versions of the Office Web Apps for individual professionals and small businesses) in a constantly-updated online environment for any commonly-used device and web browser combination no matter where you go. According to Microsoft Office Division president Kurt DelBene, “Office 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service.”
DelBene continues to say that ”With Office 365, your local bakery can get enterprise-caliber software and services for the first time, while a multinational pharmaceutical company can reduce costs and more easily stay current with the latest innovations. People can focus on their business, while we and our partners take care of the technology.”
According to the official press release, Microsoft has “worked closely with existing customers to develop Office 365, resulting in a cloud service that is designed to meet a wide range of customer needs.” Two packages are initially planned for roll-out in 40 business markets at some time in 2011: a professional user/small business package with a target cost of $6 (or 5.25 euros) per user for each month contracted. The enterprise package – which includes a Office Professional Plus desktop option — is targeted at a $24 (or 22.75 euros) per user over each contracted month.