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Office 365 beta kicks off this year  (Source: Microsoft)
Limited beta this year with general availability in 2011

Two biggest and most profitable products that Microsoft offers are Office and the Windows operating system. The company has announced this week that it is set to start testing a new cloud-based online version of Office that will battle directly against Google Docs in the business market for productivity software.

The new service is called Office 365 and Microsoft says that the new offering makes it easy for workers and users anywhere to access Office productivity solutions and more from virtually any device on virtually any browser. Office 365 is launching in a limited beta program in 13 countries with various organizations soon.

Office 365 will work on devices like smartphones and the iPad reports 
ReutersReuters also notes that Office 365 supports not only IE but Firefox, Chrome, and Safari browsers as well. Microsoft says the new software offering was developed based on close work with existing customers.

"Office 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Office Division at Microsoft. “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."

Office 365 for small companies with under 25 workers will offer Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint online, Lync Online, and an external website for $6 per user per month. Larger enterprise users will be offered basic email for $2 monthly and more robust versions of the software will be offered for $24 monthly per user with access to Office Professional Plus along with e-mail, voicemail, enterprise social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, voiceconferencing and videoconferencing, webconferencing, 24x7 phone support, on-premises licenses and a lot more.

“For a small business, Office 365 is a perfect way to start,” said Rob Nichols, chief technology officer of Allovus Design, a graphic design firm and member of Microsoft’s Customer Advisory Board for Office 365. “It has all the features we need, and we can come out of the gate with the same tools the big guys have — on day one.”

Microsoft will offer Office 365 globally starting next year with general availability in 40 countries and regions. Office 365 for Education will also debut next year for students.

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RE: Advertising
By kattanna on 10/20/2010 12:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
blasting? i dont see it.

but it is going to be interesting to see how they try to differentiate the 2.

honestly though, i dont see a lot of companies suddenly dumping their 100's or 1,000's, or more, of licenses to get a lesser product online.

also any company that is already bandwidth limited will not find this an attractive idea. that and many simply willnt trust all their company data to others or "the cloud"

RE: Advertising
By Smilin on 10/20/2010 12:55:26 PM , Rating: 3
You don't dump your existing although you may not choose to buy it again next time. They compliment each other when used together.

Unlike google docs you can also do full or partial on-premise. Maybe snag accounts for your road-warriors but leave office confined people using only on-premise.

RE: Advertising
By theprofessor on 10/20/2010 12:58:28 PM , Rating: 2
How is this a lesser product? It's the same software companies currently use, only it's hosted and managed by Microsoft. And I believe, if you're talking about Microsoft Office 2010 licenses, you may be able to use them with this service without having to pay for those licenses again. But pretty much this would be an option for those that are looking to upgrade to the Office 2010 suite of products and would rather have someone else manage them.

That's also the differentiating factor. Do you want to have your own IT department managing these services software, or would you rather have that work outsourced to Microsoft.

RE: Advertising
By The Raven on 10/21/2010 3:04:34 PM , Rating: 2
Options?! MS doesn't believe in options according to their attack on OpenOffice, and that was what I was alluding to in the OP.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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