Verizon Wireless Deal Adds Momentum to Microsoft's Move to the Cloud

NEWS ANALYSIS: A new deal with Microsoft will let Verizon Wireless customers use Microsoft Office 365 from their mobile devices for a small charge to their phone bill. The deal provides a new weapon in Microsoft’s uphill battle against Google Apps.

Verizon Wireless has begun selling Microsoft Office 365 as a part of the company€™s Small Business Essentials portfolio. The package is designed for businesses ranging in size from one to 50 employees, and supports collaboration, voice and video conferencing, document sharing and instant messaging. The Verizon Wireless package will cost $6 per month, which can be added to the users€™ phone bills.

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based version of the widely used Microsoft Office. The importance of Microsoft Office 365 became more significant when Microsoft revealed that it would introduce Office 2013 first as a part of Office 365. The cloud-based Office 365 being offered by Verizon Wireless for the company€™s mobile devices will run on Windows Phone, Android phones (but not tablets), iOS and BlackBerry devices.

Sprint announced a similar plan for Office 365 on July 31, but so far has declined to say when it would be available. A Sprint spokesperson told eWEEK only that the product release was planned for €œsometime this year.€ By contrast, Verizon Wireless began offering Office 365 on Aug. 6 at Verizon stores, online, through field and telephone sales and third-party Verizon sales outlets.

The Verizon Wireless Small Business Essentials package includes some services in addition to Office 365. Verizon is providing tier-one support, with what the company said would be a €œseamless€ transition to tier-two support when needed. That apparently means there won€™t be long hold times.

Verizon€™s support includes help setting up the product and migrating from other cloud services such as Google Apps. Office 365 includes a wide range of cloud-based Office productivity software including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and a version of SharePoint for collaboration. The package also includes Lync, a corporate instant message, audio and video conferencing product.

This is the third high-profile partnership Microsoft has announced for Office 365. In addition to the deal with Sprint, Microsoft also announced a deal with Dell to offer Office 365 for $9 per month. The pricing is similar to what customers can get buying directly from Microsoft, although both Verizon Wireless and Sprint are planning to offer value added services beyond what Microsoft offers and they plan to add the charge to customers€™ phone bills.

€œOur small businesses and entrepreneurs consistently rank two priorities the highest when it comes to using productivity tools to run their business: simplicity and cost effectiveness,€ said Michael C. Schaefer, executive director, Wireless Business Solutions, Verizon Wireless, in a prepared statement.

€œWe included Office 365 with Small Business Essentials to address these needs. Plus, we also want to emphasize it is scalable€“which is ideal for companies in the growing segment of up to 50 employees.

With all of our SMB-related products and services, our goal is to help customers expedite their workflow so they can work smarter, faster and more efficiently. Customers also have the advantage when they utilize our fast 4G LTE network, which is available in over 330 markets across the United States.€

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...