November 09, 2010, 9:57 AM — Microsoft established itself as the industry's desktop software giant by selling operating systems and applications installed directly on a user's hard drive. The company's Office 365 cloud application platform instead offers hosted applications accessible online, but Microsoft sees new opportunities for both small and large businesses in its cloud product rollout.
In an interview last week, Microsoft's Eron Kelly, senior director for business online services marketing, emphasized how Office 365 actually can expand the company's reach.
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"Certainly small and medium[-size] businesses see the value of [Office 365], because today they really just don't even have access to this technology. They don't have the skills internally to run it. But larger enterprises are seeing the value too," Kelly said.
Office 365 was announced last month and is due to be generally available next year. It features cloud-based versions of applications such as Exchange messaging, SharePoint collaboration, and the Lync communications server.
Larger customers such as Starbucks, Home Depot, Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Volvo are finding email and desktop collaboration tools to be mission-critical but not differentiating, Kelly said. Large user sites do not want to spend "internal human capital" on these applications but do want to be as productive as possible. They can take advantage of economies of scale via the cloud service, said Kelly.