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Microsoft’s New Cloud Based Office 365

The first beta version of the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s Office suite was released yesterday, Office 365. With the growth of cloud based services since the last release, this new 365 version has been brought up to date with an array of new online collaboration tools.

According to Microsoft, they have been considering integrating hosted applications since 2003/4 when they began making strategic investments in this area, but it has taken up until now to put them into practice. Dispite what Microsoft claim, many poeple are going to see this as a reactive move to new, free cloud services like Google Docs.

Microsoft’s first forray into this area was the BPOS Suite (Business Productivity Online Suite), a bundled version of other Microsoft products, that wasn’t a great success. Now they’re ready to have another go with 365, a combination of the old BPOS and Office 2010. With 365, Microsoft is attempting to create a cloud based turnkey business solution. The difference between 365 and all others suites before is the integration. When first installed it displays an Intranet style page with all your options (depending on your package level). From there you can download and install all your programs with a simple one click wizard, making it a very simple process. Through your explorer page you can also access email, calendar, contacts, and chat, as well as functionality from other online suites (SharePoint etc).

The first reviews of the Beta suite have indicated that it is just that, unfinished. Many of the reviews written about this software recognise the potential of having an all in one cloud based office and email solution, but so far the beta has shown up several problems. As with all beta’s, it is an unfinished program and will certainly be improved, but all signs show that Microsoft could well be onto a winner with 365.


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