When your competition is hot on your tail, you’d best to keep moving forward faster than they are. That is the trick that Microsoft is trying to turn by launching Office 365.
Microsoft has a whole lot riding on this launch. If it succeeds with both businesses and consumers, it will keep Microsoft in the game and validate the company’s newly adopted cloud direction and strategy. If it fails, it will provide an opening for other cloud-focused software producers like Apple and Google who already offers Google Apps in the cloud.
Office 365 is a major rebrand of Microsoft’s BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), and binds Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online onto a common cloud platform that can cost between $2 and $27 per user, per month. Microsoft is also offering an Office 365 Marketplace with productivity apps and professional services.
Office 365 is meant to provide everything from conferencing to document editing to video editing in one place. There’s also a clever focus on interoperability across multiple devices, including smartphones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
With this release, Microsoft targets SMBs. The big questions are whether businesses still trust Microsoft and if they will find Office 365 robust and feature-packed enough, to meet their varied needs.