MS Office 365 – Google Apps alternative?

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microsoft office 365

JUST ONE day after our previous blog post about Microsoft buying Skype landed, we get another interesting insight into the future of Microsoft’s ecosystem. A beta invite for Microsoft Office 365.

Now I have just read some of the blurb and signed up for a quick look around, but already this looks like it could be another game changer.

Everyone has been waiting for years now for Microsoft’s answer to Google Apps. Although Google’s business office solution is a fabulous ground breaking product and led the way, most people would agree that it lacks the functionality of Microsoft Office. Google Docs is great for collaborating, and they have been adding lots of features to it, but it still isn’t really as suitable for writing glitzy looking formal documents as MS Word, or as easy to use.

We have a number of data crunchers at KnowledgeBank in our Database marketing division, so they know their Excel from their Google Spreadsheet and they tend to use the Google Apps version for writing lists…

So what’s in the cloud-box?

MS Office 365 offers Email and Calendar – and it integrates with Office, which gives customers an option to enhance this online cloud based solution with a plethora of heavyweight offline upgrades and simultaneously access a lightweight solution which we reckon Windows Mobile has been designed to integrate with perfectly. You also get a basic website at the front end and a team collaboration portal.

Instant messaging is included and also video conferencing and online meetings too, which is a great value add – our suspicion about Skype being part of this ecosystem may also not be too far away. Who knows a cut down version of MS Dynamics might make an appearance as well for CRM as we have predicted.

Microsoft always charge hundreds for their software right? How much does it cost?

It starts at just £4 a month per user, which is a bit more than Google Apps £33 a year, though it looks on the face of it like a good deal for small businesses.

You can also map it into your own domain.

Are you using Google Apps at the minute or been waiting for a competitive Microsoft version. If so, let us know if you will be signing up to Microsoft Office 365 in the comments below.

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