Microsoft Office 365 Beta opens for business: What's inside

Microsoft has taken the wraps off of Office 365, its answer to Google Apps for Business.

By Elsa Wenzel, PC World |  Cloud Computing, microsoft office 365

This service provides mobile access to e-mail, calendar, and contacts.

SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online lets users manage a Website and a private intranet, as well as share team documents.You also can publish Access databases to SharePoint Online, which includes Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protection in the Enterprise version of Office 365.

Lync Online

Microsoft Lync, formerly known as Communications Server, is a unified communications tool supporting instant messaging, plus audio and video VoIP calls for online meetings. Options for meetings include whiteboarding and desktop sharing.

Service and Support

Microsoft says that it guarantees 99.9% uptime. Community support is available 24/7 for users of the Small Business version of the package; users of the Enterprise version can get assistance by telephone at any time. There's no penalty for early cancellation.

Pricing

Office 365 comes in two flavors. Small Business Office 365 is designed for up to 25 employees but will accept 50 maximum; its target market is companies with little or no IT staff. For Enterprise Office 365, you can sign up as many users as you like.

The Small Business service costs $6 per year per person. Microsoft charges another $12 per user for the desktop Office Professional Plus. By contrast, that software package alone would cost $499, unless you obtained special pricing via Microsoft's volume licensing options for organizations.

For bigger organizations, Office 365 Enterprise offers Active Directory, around-the-clock phone support for IT admins, advanced controls, and an annual contract. (Very small businesses that need such offerings are free to opt for the Enterprise version.) Enterprise users who are existing customers of Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) will pay $10 per month per person without Office desktop software. Add Office Professional Plus, and you'll pay a total of $24 per user. This package includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync.

Another option addresses big businesses that don't give each worker a PC. So-called "kiosk workers" can get POP3 e-mail with a 500MB storage limit, along with Office Web Apps, and they can access company data via SharePoint--all for $2 per month.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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