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The Deskless Worker

Microsoft’s BPOS: Cloud Computing’s Silver Lining?

Everything we’ve mentioned thus far describes the Standard edition of BPOS. There is also a version called Business Productivity Online Deskless Worker Suite, comprised of Exchange Online Deskless Worker and SharePoint Online Deskless Worker.

The idea here is that some employees simply aren’t tied to a PC. They might be warehouse workers or nurses—anybody who spends more time on their feet than in a seat. Some of these people won’t need all of the services covered by BPOS Standard. You can think of Deskless Worker as BPOS lite. Very lite. Live Meeting and Office Communications are wholly absent. Exchange Online Deskless Worker gives users a fixed 500MB mailbox and has them communicate through Outlook Web Access, Microsoft’s Web mail interface that looks and acts a lot like Outlook but lacks some of the other Exchange perks, such as the ability to sync with an Outlook 2007 client or be accessed via a mobile device.

SharePoint Online Deskless Worker simply gives users read-only access to SharePoint sites. Some people have criticized this license, saying that just because a worker isn’t desk-bound doesn’t mean he or she has nothing to contribute to the data environment. The subtext is that being read-only means you’re too dumb or menial to have any worthwhile input. This seems to be an overly narrow, fallacious interpretation. Consider people such as a vendor’s outside sales rep or a hired consultant. These people may make enough visits to warrant a read-only license so that they can put the company’s information to constructive use, but having direct input into projects could be unneeded or even inappropriate. There’s no need to take on the expense of a full Standard license, but the slight expense for read-only access could be beneficial for everyone.

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