Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

Summary: Microsoft is rechristening its Businesss Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Live@edu suites as "Office 365" and is launching a limited beta of the business version of the suite on October 19.

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Microsoft is rechristening its Businesss Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Live@edu suites as "Office 365" and is launching a limited beta of the business version of the suite on October 19.

The codename for what some have called BPOS v2 was "Union," according to my sources. Microsoft was rumored to be changing the final name of the new suite to Union, but that's not the case, it turns out. Microsoft chose Office 365 to reflect "dependability every day of the year," according to officials. (The recent BPOS uptime track record has been not quite so dependable, but it's an aspiration....)

A look at Office 365 (screenshots)

Office 365 is the new name for BPOS, going forward. There will be small-business, mid-size/enterprise, government and educational versions of the product, Microsoft officials said today. Office 365 for Education is the new name for Live@Edu.

Microsoft execs said today that Office 365 will be available starting in 2011. (They won't say anything more detailed than that.) A few thousand customers in 13 countries will get their hands on the beta starting today. Microsoft also is folding Dynamics CRM Online into the Office 365 suite in some way in 2011, officials said today. Microsoft also is allowing users to add Office Professional Plus, an on-premises version of Office 2010, to its Office 365 bundle.

It's been known for some time that Microsoft was refreshing its BPOS elements with a number of the features it has delivered (or soon will deliver, in the case of its Lync offering) as part of its "Wave 14" on-premises software releases. Exchange Online in the new version of BPOS will get features from Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1. SharePoint Online will get some of the features -- especially the Office Web Apps support -- that are part of the SharePoint Server 2010 release. Lync Online will get selected features from the Lync Server 2010 product that Microsoft is expected to release to manufacturing any day now. (The Live Meeting conferencing product, which used to be part of the BPOS bundle, is being subsumed by Lync.)

Microsoft has been telling customers and partners for months that the new version of BPOS was in the pipeline. At TechEd and the Worldwide Partner Conference, the Softies gave attendees information about some the coming features, and promised a beta build of the new BPOS would be out before year-end.

On the promised feature list, in addition to updates to the core products in the suite, were also single sign-on with identity federation; a redesigned User Interface (for the console); More administration and access control; support for new markets and languages; and an enhanced Syndication partner interface. (”Syndication” is Microsoft’s program allowing mostly telco companies, but also some other partners to private-label its BPOS services.) Microsoft officials said to expect some of these features to arrive before the end of 2010, but not to expect all of them to show up until the second half of 2011.

Microsoft officials said Office 365 for users with fewer than 25 employees (which may or may not be is the BPOS Lite offering I wrote about earlier this year) will be available for $6 per user per month. For enterprises and government organizations, (BPOS has been priced at $10 per user per month up until now.) The basic (formerly known as Deskless Worker) offering is $2 per user per month. Office Professional Plus software may be added on a pay-as-you-go basis. For $24 $27 per user per month, users can get Office Professional Plus, the basic Office 365 cloud services.

Those interested in kicking the tires of the limited beta, may sign up on October 19, starting at noon PT at office365.com. That will get you a spot in the beta line, but not the code today (the beta will be expanded gradually).

Other related coverage

Is Microsoft ready to roll out its new BPOS v2 test build?

Live@edu merging with BPOS: Outlook Live v2 on the way?

Microsoft shares (officially) its future BPOS plans

IBM throws its hat into the hosted e-mail ring with Exchange Online competitor

Topics: CXO, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Outsourcing

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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35 comments
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  • Is it my imagination or is MS actually nailing the cloud?

    Wow, they are being much more aggressive at moving businesses into the cloud than I thought they would, and are straddling the desktop-cloud space much more nimbly than I thought they could.

    If you want to go all-in with MS, you can. If you want to keep your operations on-site, you can. And you can do it all with MS software, either way!

    I'm impressed.
    x I'm tc
    • It is your imagination. They are still making it so your really need a

      copy of the full MS Office product, and also Windows. These are baby steps, half hearted. And the name is corny. What will it be next year? Ofice366?
      DonnieBoy
      • Do you actually have a clue...

        @DonnieBoy ... about what "cloud" means? The exact purpose of a cloud service is to provide cross-platform intergration AND an alternative to a locally installed office suite. Seriously, that amount of Google-shilling is excessive, even for you.

        That aside, the name does indeed suck.
        Stormbringer_57th
      • Stormbringer_57th: This will not be a true alternative to having a locally

        installed version of MS Office, and it will not be cross platform, and it will really require MS Office and Windows for everything to work.,
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy

        Local hardware is to cheap to not leverage the power of local clients. It is a silly fantasy to think the future is only HTML web clients.
        mikefarinha
      • mikefarinha: Ok, but, it is not a cloud offering at all then, is it? And,

        you seem to forget with the performance of Java Script, and being able to automatically use DirectX and OpenGL, cloud applications will be able to take advantage of local hardware too, AND be cross platform, accessed from wherever you are. Web browsers are NOT standing still. HTML5 is like a freight train coming.
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy

        HTML 5 A Freight Train?!?! hahaha! HTML 5 doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before in an 8 year old plugin.

        Don't get me wrong, open standards are great and much needed in IT, but insinuating that HTML 5 is going to smash everything like a freight train is laughable. It will still be years before HTML 5 is widely adopted and by that time HTML 5 will already be in the dust by other technologies pioneering new innovation.

        Standards don't pioneer innovation, they only codify it after the fact.

        Sorry, HTML 5 is not your Microsoft smashing savior.
        mikefarinha
      • Yes, Microsoft hates HTML5, this much is true. But, it is a lot more than

        flash, and will enable a wide variety of applications with high performance graphics. You have local storage as well for offline access and to compensate for slow / flaky connections.
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy
        Are you replying to me or are you just rambling? You don't seem to be making any counter point to my coment.
        mikefarinha
      • mikefarinha, he can not make any counterpoints as

        DonnieBoy historiclly has latched onto many a Google products over the years, claiming them to be the end of some offering Microsoft, or some other company, had out, only to watch Google discontinue them as their competitors product where growing in usage.

        HTML5 is the last, great hope this gentleman has from Google. Most of the freight cars have derailed, and the HTML5 engine is all he has left.
        Tim Cook
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy
        Do you need Windows? Yes... Can you use Linux? Sure... Apple's OS? Yup... It supports a lot of different browsers.

        Do you have to buy Office? No - you can use WebApp versions of Office which comes included in the service...

        Sorry - this is kind of a FUD posting...
        jessiethe3rd
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy

        They may consider calling Office 366 on leap year otherwise it will probably remain Office 365 going forward
        TGGR
  • Big brave steps

    Microsoft is making a lot of money through Office sales. Office365 will definitely hurt these sales but in the long run it will be good for them. Cloud is inevitable.
    hakanernnews
    • Small timid baby steps.

      Still requires MS Office and Windows.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy How so? The article and the content on MS website says otherwise - especially on the Office front.
        Stormbringer_57th
      • Stormbringer_57th: Well, YES, Microsoft will try to make this sound like

        the best thing since sliced bread. But, it is really not functional if you do not have MS Office and Windows.
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy
        and you're still trolling
        live.tiles
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy - seems like you've never actually tried the browser-based online Office suite running in, as you like to point out, Javascript running in non-MS browsers.

        You should sign up for a LiveID and go try it out for yourself over on http://office.live.com.

        After all, it's free and we all know how much you like free ;)

        in case you can't be bothered to try, here's a screenshot I took ... just for you!

        http://s1123.photobucket.com/albums/l542/de-void/Misc/?action=view&current=Capture.jpg
        De-Void
      • RE: Microsoft christens its cloud business suite as 'Office 365'; launches beta

        @DonnieBoy No it does not. You obviously do not know what you are talking about.
        jessiethe3rd
      • LOOK! It works on Mac!!!!!

        @DonnieBoy
        Office Web Apps work great on my iMac. No Windows or Office required.
        Stark_Industries