Microsoft has unveiled Office 365, a new cloud-based service that brings together Office, SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync for organizations. The company is opening a limited beta program for it in 13 countries and regions.
"Earlier this year, the launch of Office, SharePoint and Exchange 2010 ushered in the future of productivity," a spokesperson for Microsoft tells WebProNews. "Together with Lync, these products provide the productivity backbone for modern businesses. Building on our history of delivering cloud services at scale for more than a decade, Office 365 is designed to meet the needs of organizations of all types and sizes. And, today, we are opening a limited beta program for a few thousand organizations in thirteen regions, and Office 365 will be available worldwide in 2011."
Meanwhile, Google is continuing to rack up businesses for Google Apps, which the company is not shy about reminding us of. We get emails from the company quite often to this effect.
Still, Microsoft has a lot more history in this area than Google, and the Office and Exchange brands carry a good deal of weight.
"Office 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service," says Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft's Office Division. "With Office 365, your local bakery can get enterprise-caliber software and services for the first time, while a multinational pharmaceutical company can reduce costs and more easily stay current with the latest innovations. People can focus on their business, while we and our partners take care of the technology."
"For a small business, Office 365 is a perfect way to start," adds Rob Nichols, CTO of Allovus Design, a graphic design firm and member of Microsoft's Customer Advisory Board for Office 365. "It has all the features we need, and we can come out of the gate with the same tools the big guys have — on day one."
The service will be widely available in 2011. Until then, it is being tested with thousands of organizations. The site will go live today at 12:00 pacific. Customers and partners will be able to sign up for the beta. It will be at Office365.com.