Office 365 Sneak Peek
As brands such as Google and Zoho have launched and nurtured popular cloud-based productivity suites, users of Microsoft Office have been left to complain about the lack of full-featured online counterparts to the company's desktop Word, Excel, and PowerPoint productivity apps. Microsoft seems to have listened. In June it launched Office Web Apps; and this week it announced a new Web-based productivity suite, Office 365, which blends tools from Office Web Apps, the SharePoint collaboration platform, and Lync (the former Office Communications Server).
Microsoft will offer a free trial of Office 365 for 30 days. After that, each user of the small-business edition must pay $6 per month for 25 people, with a maximum 50 users. License fees will range between $2 and $24 per user for the enterprise edition of the service. Versions including the Business Productivity Online Suite will cost between $10 and $24 per person per month.
Here's what establishing new users and mailboxes for Office 365 would look like.
In Office 365, you can access Office Web Apps (including Outlook) from a page such as this one.
You'll be able to work on Word documents simultaneously with other users--and view their edits at the same time.
Excel in a Browser
Office Web Apps let you edit Excel spreadsheets with other users from nearly any Web browser or handheld device.
Same Page Editing
Multiple people will be able to work on a document at the same time from any Web browser. In the lower right corner of this Excel spreadsheet, you can see the names of two users who are editing concurrently.
Here's how it looks to edit a Website using Office 365, with a familiar tabbed menus layout.
Office Professional Plus, integrated within Office 365, will let you perform photo and video editing.
Like Exchange Server 2010, Exchange Online will permit workers to view Outlook e-mail on the go. The service includes 25GB mailboxes and interoperability with PCs, Macs, BlackBerrys, iPhones, and Windows Phone 7 phones.
With SharePoint Online, as with SharePoint Server, companies can collaborate securely on documents, and manage intranet and team sites.
An IT management dashboard will be available for administrators who handle user accounts, service requests, and the bundle of Microsoft services and tools including Exchange and desktop apps. Microsoft pledges IT phone support and 99.9 percent uptime, with disaster recovery.
Office in the Cloud
You can sign up to try the new productivity tools in beta form at office365.microsoft.com. The final suite is likely to be released in 2011.
Credit for all images: Microsoft