Microsoft's Office 365: Business users' top questions (and answers)

Microsoft provides answers to some current and potential Office 365 business users' most pressing questions.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft launched and began rolling out the updated version of its Office 365 cloud-hosted suite of apps for business users on February 27.


Existing and potential users have plenty of questions about the upgrade. As many, if not more, of their questions seem to be about the rollout of the new Office 365 than they are about the refreshed Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Office 2013 services/products themselves.

Microsoft conducted a launch Webcast about the rollout on February 27. I pulled some of the audience members' top questions and Microsoft-provided answers from that event. I've added a couple of additional annotations in some cases, as I've indicated.

Q: When will existing Office365 users gain access to the Office 2013 desktop suite?

A: Office 365 ProPlus - the Office 365 version of the Office 2013 suite is made available to existing Office 365 subscribers with an eligible subscription today using the Office Deployment Tool. It will also be available directly in Office 365 once your tenant has been upgraded. (MJF: More details on the way the rollout will happen are in my blog post.)

Q: What about pricing for the new Office 365 for business offerings?

A: Microsoft's Office site has comparison information for small business users and midsize/enterprise users.

Q: If I install Office 365 will it overwrite Office 2010 or can I have both versions running?

A: Office 365 ProPlus can be installed side-by-side with previous versions of Office.

Q: Would love to understand how Office365 would allow us to replace Dropbox.

A: Office 365 now offers SkyDrive Pro for personal document management and sharing. It is accessible across OSes and devices, and comes with the powerful backend of SharePoint Online for versioning, backup/restore, review management, and direct integration with the Office Web Apps.

Q: Is it possible for current P (small-business) Plan customers to upgrade to the M (mid-size business) plan?

A: Existing customers on the P1 version of Office 365 will be able to upgrade to the Midsize Business SKU later this year. New Office 365 Small Business and Small Business Premium customers will also be able to upgrade to the Midsize Business SKU later this year.

Q: How much space will be available in SkyDrive Pro per user?

A: 7GB, up from 500MB in the previous Office 365 experience.

Q: Will organizations using Live@edu be able to move their SkyDrive files directly to Office 365 for Education, now that SkyDrive is part of the offering?

A: Students and teachers who have been using SKyDrive with Live@edu will continue to have access to their documents and files stored on SkyDrive. They can easily move files between their consumer SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro provided by the organizations with Office 365.There is no way for an organization to move these files on behalf of the user.

Q: Will existing Yammer accounts still work?

A: Yes.

Q: Can I integrate Yammer with SharePoint?

A: Yes. Yammer and SharePoint already can be connected using available web parts to pull in data from Yammer, and Open Graph technology to push information from 3rd party systems into the Yammer stream. (MJF: Here's Microsoft's timetable for fully integrating Yammer and SharePoint. On the pricing side, March 1 is an important milestone date.)

Q: To what extent are different mobile devices supported with the new Office 365?

A: You'll find more details on support for various types of devices here. (MJF: As my CNET colleague Jay Greene noted yesterday, Microsoft still isn't saying anything new/more about plans to make Office available on the iPad.)

Q: When will existing Office365 users be required to move? Can we move on our own schedule?

A: The service upgrade for existing Office 365 customers is progressing now. Once you are notified of the upgrade you can defer that one time for 45-60 days. For more information about the service upgrade refer to: http://community.office365.com/en-us/wikis/office_365_service_updates/office-365-service-upgrade-center-for-enterprise.aspx

Q: Is the cost of the Project Online service on top of an Office 365 E(n) plan?)

A: Project Online is an additional service to Office 365 E Plans which delivers enterprise Project, Program and Portfolio Management. (MJF: The same is true of Visio Online. More information here.)

Q: Is it possible to mix and match different O365 subscriptions? IE. Having some users on an E1 plan and others on the E2/Midsize business plan?

A: You can mix plans within a plan family so yes you can mix Enterprise E1, E3, E4, K1 plans. You can also mix Small Business plans P1 and P2 plans. M plans cannot be mixed with any others.

Q: Are Blackberry Cloud Services available on the new Office 365?

A: Yes. They are available now for the New Office 365.

Q: Will there be still an E2 plan?

A: We are including Office Web Apps included in E1, which enables even more of our customers to get use of Office Web Apps while simplifying our lineup. E2 will continue to be available for existing customers.

I've seen a bit of confusion about what constitutes an upgrade vs. an update in Office 365 land. The easiest way to think about this is an upgrade is a whole new version of Office 365 (similar to what a new release would be in Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and/or Office). An update is a set of more minor fixes and updates, which the Office 365 team has said it plans to provide quarterly to those using the hosted services.

Other questions about the new Office 365 for business offerings, readers?

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