Microsoft has officially announced the general availability of Office 365 for businesses in India. The office productivity suite is touted to work across multiple devices, is social, and integrate seamlessly with the cloud, unlocking newer productivity scenarios and providing organizations with the desired IT control and management.
It includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Project, and Visio, as well as Microsoft Lync Online, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and the all new Yammer.
"In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, the next-generation Office 365 unlocks social and mobility scenarios that will allow businesses and individuals to take full advantage of the cloud," Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman of Microsoft India, said at the launch. "It gives them the freedom to do things, whenever, wherever, and however they want."
Since its launch in mid-2011, Office 365 is one of Microsoft's fastest growing businesses globally and has seen progressive adoption in India. At the launch, the softwarea vendor also announced new enterprise customers like Lupin, Godrej Group, Tata Communications, and AEGON Religare. However, Microsoft is hoping to see the real momentum coming from SMBs (small and midsize businesses) in India.
SMBs can either subscribe to Office 365 as Fully Packaged Product (FPP) directly from Microsoft, or via authorized partners, or through the Airtel syndication channel.
The vendor has tied up with India's leading telecom player, Bharti Airtel, to deliver Office 365 to SMBs by provisioning the service through its cloud platform. Airtel will provide SMBs with access to Office 365 along with their DSL and Internet leased-line services.
At the launch, I asked Pramanik if a partnership with other telecom or cloud service providers will come soon in the near future. He said although Microsoft would like to go in that direction, nothing was in the works at the moment.
Clifton Trends Private, a Bangalore-based apparel manufacturer, has adopted Office 365 via Airtel. "Our business operates out of multiple locations and we need data access at any given point of time even when we are not at the desk. Our requirement was to have a cloud storage space," said the company's chief manager S. Sridhar. "Microsoft 365 was chosen as the comfort level of working on Microsoft products is higher and we could sync better with our regular operations. Reliability and data security is higher with Microsoft."
For small businesses, Office 365 plans start from just US$4 per user per month, up to US$15 per user per month. Service plans for midsize enterprises range from US$8 to US$20 per user per month. Office 365 can be installed on up to five devices for a single user under the licensing agreement. All service plans are supported by IT-level Web support and 24 by 7 phone support for critical issues and financially-backed 99.9 percent up-time guarantee.