Office in the Cloud

Few days ago, Microsoft announced its foray into the cloud with Office 365, a line of collaborative Microsoft Office-like tools that users can access on the web.

Office 365 offers several office programs for personal use (hotmail/live.com users):
Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote
I have tried each one of these and I should say, I am impressed. I am as productive with cloud software as I am with desktop version – with almost all same features available online. Note that you need to get Skydrive account (essentially hotmail/live account) for online storage of documents.

Additionally, business users can get:

  • Sharepoint (website creation/hosting and content management platform)
  • Exchange (for email)
  • Lync (for collaboration, similar to Skype, Google Wave)

I am fairly certain atleast SMB users will take notice and it would make sense for them to use Cloud services. And it is not all that expensive – just $6 per month per user for small businesses of 25 employees or less. Larger businesses can choose premium plans that range from $10 to $27 per month per user with more features offered as you go up the ladder.

Try it out – the best way to learn about a new product offering like Office 365 is to experience it for yourself.

Update: I learnt today that Office 365 is currently available in 3 flavors:

  1. Standard – The “Standard” offering is multitenant (multiple customers sharing the same hardware platform)
  2. Dedicated – The “Dedicated” offering, targeted at larger customers — typically those with more than 20,000 seats — is built on a set of hardware dedicated for a single customer
  3. Federal – The Federal is the locked-down, FISMA-compliant version for government customers
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