Microsoft is prepping Office 365 for a June launch, according to comments from CEO Steve Ballmer. Media has received invites to an Office 365 event in late June.
Expectations are high that Microsoft will launch Office 365
at the end of June. The cloud-based productivity software represents Redmond's
current best chance at driving back the threat presented by Google Apps and
The company has sent media invitations to a June 28 event in
New York City, where Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will apparently take the stage
to talk Office 365. The actual venue is the Skylight Soho, also the site of
Microsoft's Windows 7 launch in October 2009.
While the invite is coy about this being Office 365's actual
launch-"Be a part of the live audience in New York City with Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer to hear the latest about Office 365" is the closest it comes-the
choice of venue, combined with Ballmer's presence, suggests the release is
indeed close at hand.
"We're pushing hard in the productivity space," Ballmer told
an audience during a May 26 speech in Delhi, India, according
to a transcript released by Microsoft
. "We'll launch our Office 365 cloud
service, which gives you Lync and Exchange and SharePoint and Office and more as
a subscribable [sic] service that comes from the cloud. That launches in the
month of June."
Microsoft launched Office 365's public beta in June. The
platform links together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online
and Lync Online, all for a starting price of $6 per user per month. Microsoft
is also offering an Office 365 Marketplace with productivity apps and
professional services. Office 365 is essentially a rebranding of the company's
BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), which bundled products such as
That massive public beta followed a limited beta launched in
October 2010. Office 365 represents yet another aspect of Microsoft's "all in"
cloud strategy, which for the moment centers on pushing a variety of cloud-based
IT services to corporations. The push comes just as Microsoft faces competition
not only from Google, which wants to secure large IT contracts with
corporations and government entities, but also upstarts such as Salesforce.com,
which have taken to attacking Microsoft's desktop-centric software offerings as
a herd of hopelessly outdated dinosaurs.
Microsoft is arguing that Office 365 will ultimately save
companies the money and headaches associated with maintaining on-premises
servers and other IT infrastructure. That subscription model also ensures
Microsoft a steady stream of month-over-month revenue. But in order to seize
that business market, Microsoft will need to face down Google, which is
devoting similarly enormous resources to developing and deploying its own
cloud-based offerings for small and midsize businesses, as well as the