Cloud Computing: Microsoft Launches Office 365, a New Google Competitor
Microsoft launched Office 365 in New York City June 28, very conspicuously choosing the same venue it used for Windows 7's debut in October 2009. And as with Windows 7, Microsoft has a lot riding on this particular launch. If Office 365 succeeds with businesses and consumers, it'll help validate the company's choice of an "all in" cloud strategy. If the platform fails, it'll provide an opening for other cloud-software producersmost notably Google, which already offers a cloud-productivity platform with Google Appsto establish themselves in the space. Office 365 is a rebranding of Microsoft's BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), and binds Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online onto a common cloud platform that costs between $2 and $27 per user, per month. On top of that, Microsoft is offering an Office 365 Marketplace with productivity apps and professional services. In sum, Office 365 is meant to provide everything from conferencing to document editing to video editing in one convenient (and accessible) place. There's also a focus on interoperability across multiple devices, including smartphones running Microsoft's Windows Phone. For this release, Microsoft is particularly targeting SMBs, claiming Office 365 will give them a competitive edge without the burden of complex on-premises systems. The question is whether those businesses will find Office 365 durable enough, and feature-filled enough, to meet their needs.