Microsoft has officially launched its Office 365 suite in China, where some 20,000 enterprise customers have trialed the cloud service since its public preview in August 2013.
Operated by local vendor 21Vianet, which also runs Redmond's Azure platform in the Chinese market, Office 365 has moved to general availabilty following the official launch in Shanghai last week, almost three years after the subscription-based service was first launched in June 2011.
Chinese laws require foreign cloud vendors partner Chinese infrastructure providers to operate in the country.
The Office 365 launch follows the general availability of Microsoft Azure in China last month, making it the frst global public cloud services provider in the market. The Office suite, which includes Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Word, will be delivered from local data centers operated by 21Vianet.
The software offerings are also integrated with Microsoft's various collaboration services such as SharePoint Online.
Some 20,000 enterprise customers in China including government agencies, education institutions, and private businesses have already trialed Office 365 services since its public preview in August 2013, according to China Tech News. The report added that major enterprises as well as public organizations in Shanghai and Xi'an, among others, had subscribed for the cloud services
Office 365 is available in a tiered pricing model, including an early-bird discount offer for businesses and government agencies until end-May. Home users can subscribe to the software suite for 399 yuan (US$64.59) per year.
According to Qi Lu, Microsoft's China executive vice president of applications and services, the Shanghai government was an early adopter of Office 365, while early adopters in the enterprise space included ICBC Leasing and Dongfeng Renault.
Qi added that the software vendor had inked a new agreement with the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) to offer Office 365 to universities and colleges in the country. The national academic online provider currently supports more than 1,800 universities and colleges, and more than 20 million end-users in China. A team will be created to offer deployment, training, and service support for Office 365 to CERNET members and 3 million users over the next year, he said.