Thursday, 28 October 2010

Microsoft Office is up in the clouds

Microsoft has brought cloud computing into the office environment with the release of a cloud version of its popular Office suite. Also included in the Office suite will be its flagship collaboration tool SharePoint Online and email via Exchange Online.

Up until now most cloud applications have been based around Web 2.o applications such as social media applications, blogs, forums etc. With the launch of its Office 365 suite, Microsoft has brought cloud computing to the typical blue collar worker.

The release is currently named Office 365 (presumably as a reference to the fact that it is available 365 days of the year). It’s entirely possible though that the name will be changed to something else.

It’s aimed at small to medium enterprises (SMEs), with costs running between $6 and $27.50 per user per month. The specific cost will depend on the applications that are required, and the storage requirements.

With their office applications hosted via the Internet, users can therefore access their usual Office applications using any device that can access the Internet. This includes iPads, smartphones, as well as the usual PCs, netbooks and laptops. The devices need to support ActiveSync.

It is estimated that customers of Office 365 could save up to 10% over more traditional desktop versions of the applications. The Office 365 cloud computing solution is particularly suitable for companies with between 1 to 25 staff that are required to collaborate with external partners. This could include marketing initiatives, or product development.

For any SMEs wishing to look into reducing software costs, which typically runs at around 15% of total IT expenditure, it could be extremely beneficial to investigate the latest cloud computing offering from Microsoft.

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