Because of the global address list snafu, and another issue that made it difficult to create properly functioning email aliases, Burns says, "I went to download PowerShell, but very quickly I realized this is going to be time-consuming -- and if I write the script, how do I test it? How do I know it's right? Now I'm afraid to run the script on my data. What if I biff it and delete all my stuff instead?"
One Office 365 beta user complained in the global address list help forum, "This is another example of how such a basic requirement from any business cannot be executed unless you have the Enterprise package. Why the heck should you need to have the Enterprise package simply to be able to import contacts into the GAL?"
In response to a query from Network World, Microsoft said it provides tools to small businesses to migrate users and mailboxes from other services.
"Office 365 for small businesses is designed specifically for smaller businesses and professionals who are looking for cloud-based productivity tools without the IT hassles," Microsoft said in an email statement.
At the same time, Microsoft did not deny that it requires PowerShell to import addresses into the Global Address List. PowerShell is also required to create shared mailboxes for email aliases -- which, for example, would let any employee respond from a generic address, such as "firstname.lastname@example.org."
We received no word from Microsoft on whether this will change once Office 365 exits beta.
Office 365 is getting some positive reviews. Network World reviewed the enterprise version of Office 365, with tester Mike Heck reporting, "Overall, Office 365 for enterprises' Web-enabled tools let me access email, important documents, and efficiently collaborate with those inside -- and outside -- my test organization's boundaries. This cloud service works handily with Microsoft's desktop office application that workers may already use. Additionally, Office 365 gives enterprise IT departments control over policies and configuration -- while delegating server maintenance and software upkeep to Microsoft."
IN PICTURES: 13 cool features of Office 365
But any online service is bound to have problems, and the Office 365 help forums illustrate which issues are frustrating users. One user complains that while Office 365 lets you connect to up to five POP or IMAP email accounts, it only checks the extra accounts once an hour by default. Checking them manually requires a couple of steps.