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Microsoft Office 365 Launches

Today, Microsoft officially launched Office 365, the “cloud-based” version of Office, featuring the entire Office productivity suite and collaboration capabilities. Office 365 offers a range of service plans with monthly prices ranging from $2 to $27 per user per month.

Office 365 offers each user a 25-gigabyte (GB) mailbox and lets them send email messages up to 25 megabytes (MB). Besides email you can shared documents, do instant messaging, share your Desktop, perform video and Web conferencing, and more. The feature-rich Lync client lets you view presence, send IMs, and make VoIP or video calls. Office 365 is the ultimate hosted unified communications!

The move of Office to the cloud is a big step for Microsoft. Previously, users would purchase the Office suite and often choose not pay for an upgrade until they are at least two major versions behind. With the cloud, users get the benefit of the latest version of the software, and Microsoft gets recurring revenue. Microsoft is also backing up their hosted offering with a 99.9% up-time guarantee.

While Google offers their hosted productivity suite (Google Apps), Microsoft Office 365 is much more feature-rich and better for an enterprise environment. Microsoft has a winner on their hands with Office 365 and I expect a huge customer uptake in the next 18 months.

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