Microsoft is taking aim at Google Apps with the launch of a hosted, subscription-based version of Office called Office 365.
Microsoft is no stranger to offering services via the cloud, but Office 365 represents a rebranding of the company's BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) that suggests the Redmond-based company is determined to make its cloud-based services a big success. Previously, the company offered
SharePoint, Lync Online, Exchange, and Office web apps; now they're rolling everything into one, adding the latest version of the Microsoft Office desktop suite, and calling it Office 365.
CNet's Ina Fried writes that very small businesses (under 25 employees) can look forward to prices as low as $6 per user per month, but clarifies that this version includes only the Web-based version of Office. Larger companies will have a range of options, starting with $2 per month for just hosted e-mail, and going as high as $27 per user per month for the most full-featured option, which includes the full Office Pro Plus desktop suite in addition to Sharepoint, Exchange, communications server tools and the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.
Availability is scheduled for sometime in 2011. Unfortunately, Microsoft wasn't willing to divulge any more information than that when it came to a release date. However, they company has opened up a limited beta for people who can't wait until next year to try it. The first round of beta testing will only have spots for 2,000 organizations and it's done on a first come, first served basis. Register your interest here.
Read more about Office365 on Microsoft's brand new Office365 blog or check out the demo video below for more on the features of Office 365.