Microsoft teams with Mastercard to offer Office365 discount

Small businesses who have accounts with the credit-card company will be eligible for a 10 percent savings on the Microsoft cloud suite.

Considering Google Apps for running your small business in the cloud?

Not so fast. Microsoft is giving small businesses a financial incentive to consider its Office 365 cloud productivity suite. But you have to be a Mastercard small-business merchant or account holder to qualify.

The two companies have teamed up to offer a 10 percent discount on Microsoft Office 365 to small-business cardholders. Office 365 includes applications for email, document creation, contact management and scheduling. In order to be eligible for the discount, you have to buy the cloud service through the MasterCard Easy Savings program.

Is this enough to get small businesses thinking about using the Microsoft cloud offering? It sort of depends.

I recently interviewed an IT services executive in Missouri who points out that buying software in the cloud can be tricky for two reasons:

  1. If your business is located in a rural-ish area where the broadband access isn't that great, you could experience access challenges
  2. You never "own" the software, which is sort of counter-intuitive to some small-business owners

Personally, I think the drive toward mobility will continue to push small businesses into the cloud for at least half of their application needs, especially customer relationship management (CRM), scheduling, email and disaster recovery (which finally makes real financial sense to small-business owners). I'm not so sure about productivity applications such as word processors or presentation creation applications, but it's great to see Microsoft giving small businesses a reason to try.