Microsoft has pushed out Office 365 on a global basis today, making it available in no less than 40 countries.
The product represents Office taking to the cloud, comprising of a package which includes the full Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online in a constantly updated online service which is paid for via monthly subscription.
Over 20 service providers across the globe have announced plans to bring Office 365 to business customers along with their own services, one of them being Vodafone.
CEO Steve Ballmer, on hand for the big launch, enthused: “Great collaboration is critical to business growth, and because it’s so important, we believe the best collaboration technology should be available to everyone.”
“With a few clicks, Office 365 levels the playing field, giving small and midsize businesses powerful collaboration tools that have given big businesses an edge for years.”
The idea is staff members can use the Office apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others – while connecting to Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Lync to work collaboratively with each other.
They’ll also be able to instant message, instantly share content, set up virtual meetings and so forth, wherever they happen to be (using whatever device). That’s the theory anyway – of course, it’s possible to do this free to an extent with the likes of Google’s online offerings, but MS is tying a lot more in here.
The Office 365 public beta began in April, and in total during the entire beta testing process, some 200,000 companies have signed up to try the system out. Microsoft claims that some of these organisations reported halving IT department costs.
Office is a big part of Microsoft’s profitability, and in the company’s financial report at the start of the year, it was revealed that Office 2010 had become the fastest selling version of the productivity suite in the company’s history.
It made some big bucks, for sure, but now MS has to move with the times and keep that level of monetisation in the cloud.