Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

Summary: As rumored last week, Microsoft made available on April 18 a public beta of its Office 365 bundle of Microsoft-hosted applications.

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As rumored last week, Microsoft made available on April 18 a public beta of its Office 365 bundle of Microsoft-hosted applications.

Office 365 will include updated versions of SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Lync Online, Office Web Apps and an optional Office 2010 Professional Plus software package, all available as via subscription. It will bring many, though not all, of the capabilities in the on-premises versions of SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010 and Lync 2010 to cloud users. (Office 365 is Microsoft-hosted, but not yet hosted on Windows Azure, for the record.)

In October 2010, Microsoft introduced an invitation-only, limited beta of Office 365 -- the successor to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Live@Edu offering and its Office Live Small Business service. Microsoft officials said that more than 100,000 organizations signed up for the beta.

Those interested in kicking the tires of the new public beta, available in 38 markets and 17 languages, can sign up at http://www.Office365.com.

Update: Those who are signing up for new/first-time Office 365 accounts are being told they won't actually be added to the beta for two weeks, according to  @Karucifer. He's right. I've asked Microsoft why there's a delay.  and will add any information I receive to this post. Here's the official response from a spokesperson: "If the tremendous interest we saw in the private beta is any indication, we expect a tremendous response to the public beta, and we want to ensure our customers have a great experience getting into the beta.” Those already testing Office 365 are being upgraded to the new beta automatically, Microsoft execs said.

Microsoft also announced plans on April 18 to take the wraps off the Office 365 Marketplace. The marketplace will highlight partner apps and services for Office 365. There will be 100 apps and 400 professional services in the marketplace to start. The Office 365 marketplace can be found here.

Microsoft execs are continuing to promise Office 365 will drop its beta tag later this year. I continue to hear that will happen in early June.

Microsoft seems to be leaning away from offering a "dedicated" version of Office 365, instead focusing on the shared/multitenant crowd with the new version of its cloud-hosted business bundle. The BPOS-D offering is aimed at enterprise customers with 5,000 seats and above. Microsoft is planning to sell Office 365 in a variety of flavors and price points, ranging from the entry-level "K" (kiosk worker) plans, to its its small-business-focused "P" plans, to enterprise-targeted "E" plans. There also will be a separate Office 365 for Education offering.

Microsoft officials said last year that the company is planning to add the Dynamics CRM Online offering to Office 365 at some point in 2011, but have offered no additional details.

Update 2: UK VAR software manager RIchard Gibbons has a good summary of some of the "license mobility" changes Microsoft is making to accommodate users who want to run Microsoft applications in a mix-and-match way across the cloud and on-premises servers.

Topics: Collaboration, Microsoft, Software

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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23 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

    Hi MJ,
    Please could you try and find out what is happening to Office Live for Small Business (OLfSB)? When Office 365 was announced it was said that that would be replacing OLfSB but I haven't heard anything since. I am rather concerned because I use OLfSB to run the website for my mother's dog-walking business (http://bestfriendpets.co.uk/).

    Regards
    Jamie
    jamiet
    • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

      @jamiet There are several different versions of Office 365 - the specific one which replaces Office Live for Small Business is the P sku aka Office 365 Small Business Edition. It comes with a public facing website much like Office Live did.
      jessiethe3rd
    • OLSB is being discontinued

      The plan is to migrate OLSB users to O365. More info here under item no. 6:

      http://zd.net/d03AeG

      Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

    @Jamie
    The beta allows you to sign up for the Small Business or the Enterprise programs. The Small Business program looks like the successor to OLSB.
    RobHalligan
  • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

    Hi Mary Jo,
    Thanks for the article. FYI, Microsoft is misspelled on the homepage of ZDNet in the main feature rotating area. Thought you would want to know. Thanks again.
    vervecreations
  • Had it for about a week now...

    The rollout is a slow one - I believe they are adding in chunks so the first day there's like 1000 add ins... the second day 5000.... and so on and so on.

    It's quite amazing - I really love SharePoint now - there is so much capability inherit! Office WebApps are very cool... this is coming together quite well.
    jessiethe3rd
  • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

    Again Microsoft comes out of the gate with less than minumal required functionality, in my opinion of course. There may be some use cases (deskless worker program) but I think we'll have to wait until 2012 before we see real enterprise functionality.

    My understaning is there will be no Blackberry support in the beta and first release of Office 365, a show stopper for most enterprises.

    Sharepoint "365" is a very very very lite version of Sharepoint 2010; also not suitable for a full enterprise experience.
    brucegarlitz@...
    • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

      @brucegarlitz@... Really? We must be looking at two totally different things because I am using 365 and SharePoint is head and shoulders better than what came in BPOS.

      Deskless = Kiosk... this leads me to believe you may be getting your versions mixed up. Maybe you should try the beta before you start judging...
      jessiethe3rd
  • Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle what about it

    after reading the write up on this all I have to say is what about it... why would I really want to pay for this once it becomes available, personally I don't like the idea of the cloud and the fact that too may things could go wrong... I am all for everyone working together that are in different part of the world but the same thing could be done with open office... and it's free... so why pay a premium for something that is freely available?
    the_ghost2006
    • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

      @the_ghost2006 I'd NEVER trust working in the Cloud for anything. MS is just looking to save big bucks without having to make apps on discs available to their customers and STILL CHARGE the same price for those apps. They save tons of money while continuing to charge the same and throw those who puchase Office to the jackass wolf hackers out there. OR, to some turncoat within MS to make some side money. DON'T TRUST IT!!!<br><br>JonJon
      Don Giovanni
  • Message has been deleted.

    stuartcurrie79
  • Cloud Computing the way it should be done

    I like what I have seen so far and am impressed at the depth and breadth of functionality available.
    Your Non Advocate
  • Interesting

    Could be very useful to the tens of thousands (millions) of people who only use 10% of MS Office functionality and who need to work collaboratively. I use Google Apps and it is really useful for collaboration, so I can see what MS will do. Besides, more competition = better for consumers like me
    HugoM
  • Cloud Computing will reduce incident reports ...

    Here's a thought ...
    Consider all the users who have "botched" their installations of MS products, especially Office, in some manner or other: not turning on automatic updates, turning on automatic updates and interrupting them halfway through, applying 3rd-party "patches" to do something "unique and special", etc ad nauseum.
    If all these users can be directed to working with Office 365 instead, they will always be using the most up-to-date and "official" MS version, without flowery 3rd-party interference/add-ons, and they won't be able to "break" it. From a support point of view, that's terrific!

    (If the enterprise has a bunch of "Road Warriors", it can consider subscribing to a bunch of "internet sticks" to complement their cell phone plans.)
    alan.douglas@...
  • HELP! Somebody fix the underlining!!!

    Blame it on stuartcurrie79 and his wonky formula!
    alan.douglas@...
  • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

    Why would I pay for this, when I can use google apps to do the exact same job for free of cost?
    Shahriyar_Ahmed
    • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

      @Shahriyar_Ahmed maybe because:
      a.) GAP pales in comparison
      b.) GAP indexes everything you upload for Adword searching
      c.) This is meant for people who need business class/enterprise class capabilities
      jessiethe3rd
  • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

    Now this is turning into something way off topic, what's with all the underlining? Did ZDNet just get hacked? Hmm, more and more fun stuff on the Internet.
    MrElectrifyer
  • RE: Microsoft delivers public beta of its Office 365 cloud bundle

    I liked the look but think I am missing something. Am I supposed to remember that email address to login with when it is 5 miles long? That was the deal breaker for me...
    **************@**************.onmicrosoft.com
    desktopanalyst
    • Domain Name..

      @desktopanalyst CNAME record needs to be connected up to Office 365 then you login through the portal with the email address of your choosing.
      jessiethe3rd