Microsoft has launched the public beta of Office 365, a major part of its "all in" strategy for cloud computing. Microsoft's rivals in cloud include Google.
Microsoft has introduced the public beta of its Office 365,
the company's cloud-productivity offering and current best chance for driving
back the threat presented by Google Apps and similar platforms. Microsoft has a
habit of launching large-scale betas for its products, the better to apparently
weed out bugs and other issues ahead of the general release.
will be available in 38 markets and 17 languages and joins Microsoft
Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online.
The service's starting price is $6 per user per month. In addition,
is launching the Office 365 Marketplace, with more than 100
and 400 professional services.
Microsoft originally launched Office 365 in limited beta
in October 2010, announcing at the time that general availability would come
sometime in 2011. The platform is essentially a rebranding of the company's
BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), which bundled products such as
The software giant has
also expressed interest in selling Office 365 as a customizable platform,
allowing companies with simpler needs to access fewer products. For the past
several months, Microsoft has been aggressive in pushing an "all-in" cloud
strategy, major components of which involve 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 many of Microsoft's current offerings as
In virtually every public speech, for example, Salesforce
CEO Marc Benioff extols the enterprise IT future as mobile-centric and
constantly updated via the cloud. Despite having made its fortune in
desktop-centric software, however, Microsoft also seems to realize the
fundamentals underlying the tech industry are undergoing a massive paradigm
shift: hence Office 365, Windows Azure and other platforms.
Microsoft is also partnering with Research In Motion to
integrate its cloud offerings into BlackBerry devices, with the latter
providing cloud-based BlackBerry service in support of Office 365. RIM's
BlackBerry Enterprise servers will connect "cloud to cloud" with Microsoft's
data centers to host Office 365 on users' Blackberrys.
upcoming PlayBook tablet
will be able to port and display Office 365 data
from any user's BlackBerry, through the
BlackBerry Bridge tethering service.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's battle with Google over large cloud
contracts has grown particularly intense in the past few months, with the search-engine
giant even suing the federal government after the Department of the Interior
allegedly denied its bid to update an email and messaging system. Microsoft's
BPOS-Federal suite eventually won that contract, estimated at $59 million over
a five-year life cycle.
Last October, Microsoft announced a partnership with New
York City's government to provide municipal employees with access to
cloud-based Microsoft applications, in what many saw as a sort of response to
Google's agreement with the City of Los Angeles to provide cloud services to