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Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Microsoft Brings Office To The Cloud With Office 365

Microsoft launched a fully online version of its Office suite of applications on Tuesday as it looks to extend its customer base and beat back rival Google.

Office 365 brings together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online in an always-up-to-date cloud service. With Office 365, people can work together more easily from anywhere on virtually any device, while collaborating with others inside and outside their organization in a simple and secure way. As part of today?s news, Microsoft is also opening a limited beta program for Office 365 in 13 countries and regions.

Office 365 works with the most popular browsers, smartphones and desktop applications people use today, including Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome, and can be used on mobile devices such as Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPad.

"Office 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service," said Kurt DelBene, president of the Office Division at Microsoft. "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."

With Office 365 for small businesses, professionals and small companies with fewer than 25 employees can be up and running with Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and an external website in just 15 minutes, for $6 or 5.25 euros per user, per month.

Office 365 for enterprises introduces an array of choices for midsize and large businesses as well as government organizations, starting for as little as $2 or 1.75 euros per user, per month for basic e-mail. Office 365 for enterprises also includes the option to get Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop software on a pay-as-you-go basis, for the first time ever. For $24 or 22.75 euros per user, per month, organizations can get Office Professional Plus along with e-mail, voicemail, enterprise social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, voiceconferencing and videoconferencing, webconferencing, 24x7 phone support, on-premises licenses, and more.

Office 365 will be available worldwide next year. Starting today, Microsoft will begin testing Office 365 with a few thousand organizations in 13 countries and regions around the world, and the beta will be expanded to include more organizations over time. Office 365 will be generally available in 40 countries and regions next year.

Later next year, Office 365 will expand to include Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to provide Microsoft?s complete business productivity experience to organizations of all types and sizes. In addition, Office 365 for education will debut later next year, giving students, faculty and school employees powerful technology tailored specifically to their needs.

The move strikes a blow against rival Google, which has had some success with its Google Apps service, which provides a low-cost, Web-based alternative to Microsoft's traditional Office software for $50 per user per year.

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