Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

Summary: Microsoft and RIM are set to unveil a new offering, possibly as soon as March 16 -- a Hosted Blackberry Enterprise Service for customers using Exchange 2010 Online, Microsoft's hosted Exchange e-mail service, according to my sources.

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Microsoft and RIM are set to unveil a new offering, possibly as soon as March 16 -- a Hosted Blackberry Enterprise Service for customers using Exchange 2010 Online, Microsoft's hosted Exchange e-mail service, according to my sources.

Microsoft already offers a Microsoft-hosted Hosted Blackberry Enterprise Service (BES) offering that costs $10 a month per user. Word is that the new Hosted BES offering will be free for existing Hosted BES users.

One person in the know said the existing Hosted BES offering's end-date is June 30 -- the end of the month during which Microsoft is believed to be launching its Office 365 cloud platform, according to what I've heard. Office 365 is Microsoft's replacement for its existing Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Live@edu platforms.

Once Office 365 moves from its beta status to final, however, there could be a delay in getting the new hosted BES service on the re-engineered platform, one of my contacts said. Microsoft will likely provide some kind of stop-gap solution that requires some on-premises servers until BES can be updated for Office 365, that contact said. I'm not clear if the price of the new hosted BES service will still be zero once Office 365 goes live or not.

I've asked Microsoft for comment on the expected new BES deal and its Blackberry-hosting plans once Office 365 launches. I will update this post if and when I receive a response.

This just in: Microsoft is confirming the price cut to zero of its hosted BES service, via a blog post on March 16. Microsoft officials also said that Blackberry will be offering a RIM-hosted version of the service for Exchange Online users later this year.

"RIM is only mobile OS that doesn't use (Microsoft) ActiveSync-aware devices and has a separate device management platform - the BES environment," one of the aforementioned sources said. "Most large enterprise customers run a on premise BES server to get the advanced device management."

Here's a description of what the existing hosted BES provides, from a Microsoft blog post dated February 2010:

"The Hosted BlackBerry service from Microsoft Online Services offers the most commonly requested BlackBerry capabilities, including wireless access to e-mail, calendar, tasks and contacts with global address list (GAL) integration, and device management such as device wipe and password reset."

Update: Looks like this is, indeed, happening. When I downloaded the latest (dated March 15, 2011) version of the Mobility Solutions data sheet for Microsoft Online Services, the new free pricing was already in there. Here's a snapshot from that document:

(click on the screen shot to enlarge)

Update No. 2: RIM is holding a "Blackberry for Business" Webcast on March 17 where it will detail new/additional cloud services for the Blackberry. So perhaps the new hosted BES will be unveiled tomorrow....

One more update: Here are my follow-up  questions and Microsoft's answers regarding the aforementioned blog post about the future of BES:

Q: Is the RIM-hosted service going to take the place of the existing BES service later this year, at some point? A: Yes.

Q: So there will not be both a Microsoft-hosted BES and a RIM-hosted BES? A: Correct (Me: with some caveats -- see next Q and A).

Q: However, Microsoft will continue offering BES to its BPOS/Office 365 Dedicated users, right? A: Right.

Q: Who actually hosts the BES servers in the case of the dedicated users? A: Microsoft.

Q: Any comment on my sources’ claims that there will be a gap between the time that BES is available to BPOS users and when it is available to Office 365 users? A: BES is currently available to BPOS users, and it will be available to Office 365 via RIM’s new cloud-based service after Office 365 launches later this year.

Q: Does the RIM-hosted BES also remain free? Or can/will RIM charge? A: As noted in the blog post – it’s free.

Any Hosted Blackberry Enterprise Service users out there? What are you hearing about the new offering and plans around Office 365?

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, BlackBerry, 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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17 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

    RIM should hug and kiss Ballmer for this one. Without ActiveSync, RIM's value message is withering on the vine.
    frankwick
  • The Enemy of My Enemy ...

    Oh how Ironic. Five years ago Microsoft senior execs were throwing Blackberry devices into shredders at the annual sales meeting. Now that they both face an uphill battle in the mobile space its all peace and love :-)
    GWriterZ
  • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

    LOL yea we didn't want to pay for an inferior email system so they are giving it to us for free.
    LarsDennert
    • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

      @LarsDennert

      LOL, inferior?! Thanks for the laugh.
      Intosh
      • right

        @Intosh yeah ... so awesome. I can get email on my phone. Thanks Blackberry, amazing. What do I need the Internet for? Push email notifications and costly services to sync? I feel like I'm on Star Trek or something.

        Right. Blackberries are dirt. The stale bureaucracy of the enterprise is its last remaining haven but it's disappearing faster than you can say, "I'm confidently ignorant of reality"
        @...
  • GOOD NEWS FOR ALL!

    MS alone can do this right!
    nomoreds
    • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

      @nomoreds dont be so sure, they have tough competition. And just recently Samsung has started to crush this market.
      Liz - <a href="http://blaagh.org">fail blog</a>
      izzypiz
  • Hosted BES user

    We use hosted BES and BPOS and haven't heard a peep about changes in hosted BES. I've only received 1 email regarding migrating to office 365 and that was months ago. I can't even get access to the Beta of Office 365.
    davidcaranfa@...
    • move on

      @davidcaranfa Office365 doesn't have a release date yet. MSFT is still on the on-premise, 3+ year upgrade cycle. They roll out the on-premise versions and 18 to 24 months later provide watered down hosted versions. BPOS is on the 2007 server products, 365 will be on the 2010 server products. All with on-premise product requirements.

      You can expect your next upgrade after moving to 365 to come sometime around 2015. That's hilarious.

      If you're looking for real cloud computing solutions I wouldn't buy it from the on-premise giants.
      @...
      • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

        @PatKelly ... and back in reality ...

        Microsoft are actually pushing really hard to drive adoption of BPOS now and Office365 later. The beauty of Microsoft's products and services is that they give you a continuum - a series of choices as to whether you want to run everything in-house, deeply integrated with your in-house systems, partially in-house and partially online and entirely online. This gives customers FAR more choice and control than many other vendors' options.

        The only on-premise requirement you have for BPOS is that you must be running Windows or OSX on your desktops/laptops or WinMo/WinPhone/iOS/Android (and now BB) on your mobile devices.

        If you have an in-house domain & Exchange, you can choose to move some/all of your users' email accounts online. It's your choice.

        We, for example, have an in-house domain, but all our Exchange, Sharepoint, LiveMeeting & Communicator is online. Can't wait for Office365 which will add a number of important capabilities without having to deploy (and this manage, service, operate, backup, maintain) one server locally.
        bitcrazed
    • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

      @davidcaranfa@... That's because the beta isn't exactly open! Also if you use BES & BPOS don't expect far office 365 and BB to work right off the bat. BES is going to be free for you now and in the future.
      jessiethe3rd
  • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

    may be we see a bbm service on wp7 shortly, blackberry needs some with big pockets to defend its mobile market or they cannot copete with googles apple and micrsofts of the world. They obviously won't joinhands with either google or apple, and microsoft will do everything to woo the customers, I wont be surpersed if we see a blackberry service on wp7 devices and if microsoft is looking into this they need to act fast, I am getting more worried about my HTC HD7, hardware wise its still at par with dual cores of the world but, we seriously need something that can attract the niche market and Xbox alone cannot give us that
    abhi.jamwal
  • Great move.

    Yesterday @SharePoint2010 had this link to a RIM Presentation on this topic: http://twitter.com/SharePoint2010/status/47757028164251648

    The first message on this topic: http://twitter.com/mvisser/status/47666990713798656
    O365freak
    • Thanks

      Thanks for the links! Good stuff. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Now if RIM would just release all its phones on all carriers

    The Torch only on AT&T? WHY? They have some interesting new devices coming, hopefully all carriers will get them.
    condelirios
  • RE: Microsoft, RIM expected to unveil new, free hosted Blackberry service

    @grahamc2 It doesn't really effect Nokia. WP7 phones already have this and I don't think it is a simpler solution. Although, MS needs to get its act together with security on the WP7 phones using Exchange.
    rmark@...
  • Great News in the Cloud Space

    This is a great synergy between two Enterprise focused cloud providers. It is a solid play and a key differentiator. I am amazed at the number of Enterprise customers that are planning to migrate to Office 365 in the next few months.
    Your Non Advocate