Microsoft warns users not to jump the gun on BPOS-to-Office 365 migrations

Microsoft is cautioning users of its BPOS cloud suite of applications against attempting to manually migrate to Office 365 and is advising them to wait until September for the transition period to begin.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is doing its best to dissuade customers on its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) cloud platform from attempting to move themselves manually to its successor, Office 365.

Microsoft launched Office 365 -- its bundle of Microsoft-hosted Exchange, SharePoint and Lync communications -- in late June 2011. However, the company isn't going to begin transitioning BPOS users to Office 365 in earnest until September. This isn't any later than Microsoft execs said in May that users should expect. Here's Microsoft's projected transition timeline from TechEd:


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Regardless of Microsoft's planned schedule, there seems to be a number of users champing at the bit to get off BPOS and onto Office 365, which is understandable given Office 365's more robust functionality, more up-to-date feature set, and (hopefully) more resilient foundation.

Microsoft officials have told customers that they will receive a notification with proposed transition timing from the company when the Redmondians are ready to move them. Those who aren't willing to wait should know that manual migration results in mail flow stopping for at least 24 hours. In addition, customers with Exchange Hosted Archiving will lose all archived data, Microsoft is warning.

From an August 7 Microsoft Online Services Team Blog post:

"While we realize that many BPOS customers are eager to move onto the new Office 365 service and start using all the new features, we strongly recommend that you wait until we are ready to transition your tenant for you.

"We have received a number of Support calls from customers and partners who have tried to migrate their data from BPOS to Office 365 by themselves. Please be aware that if you attempt a manual migration, emails sent to your domains will be returned to sender as undeliverable until Support can delete your domain from BPOS and you can re-create in Office 365. This email outage could last as long as 24 hours (possibly longer if many customers are asking Support to delete their domains at the same time as you)."

For customers who really can't and won't wait, Microsoft is providing some manual migration guidance, while noting that only those who are experts in Exchange server migrations and comfortable with PowerShell scripts should attempt the move on their own.

Users interested in prepping for the coming Office 365 migration can download now the Microsoft Transition Guide and the Transition FAQ.

Microsoft is planning to migrate its Live@Edu users to Office 365 in the spring or summer of 2012. Microsoft currently is planning to complete all of the migrations of existing users to Office 365 within a year from when the transition begins.

Update: If you need another reason not to try this migration at home, independent .Net consultant Robert McLaws' transition experience might convince you.

McLaws told me he was prompted by Microsoft that he was eligible to make the transition, but never was provided with a choice of migration dates. McLaws said his domain was "held hostage" for eight days -- during which he was unable to send or receive email -- because Microsoft allows a domain to live only in one place as a result of how Microsoft has built its cloud platform around Active Directory.

"They couldn't even tell me where I was in the (migration) queue," McLaws said. "This migration process is more difficult than they thought."

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