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By Clint Patterson, Director of Communications, Microsoft Office Division
This morning, Kurt DelBene and Chris Capossela, the president and vice president of the Microsoft Office Division respectively announced Office 365, opened the beta, and shared the stories of some of our amazing customers and partners. Because not everyone could be with us at the event in San Francisco, we invited media to ask questions via Twitter, and ask you did! We promised to answer them on our blog, and here they are!
Below are the top ten questions we've seen, along with answers. Keep the questions coming, and I'll keep answering.
Office 365 replaces BPOS (and Office Live Small Business and Live@edu), but BPOS will be available until Office 365 launches next year. And, BPOS is still the best path to get in the cloud now.
Existing BPOS customers will able to transition during the year following Office 365 global availability. We know our customers do not like surprises, and so we've taken a very deliberate approach to rolling out Office 365. That approach is designed around the customer and ensuring they are ready for the transition and can get the most of the significant new capabilities we are introducing. Check out our blog today and the new Office 365 transition center for more information and ongoing guidance and discussion about transition.
Yes! Office 365 includes the most compelling elements of OLSB - email, public web sites, and more. While nothing will change for OLSB customers now, the transition to Office 365 will likely begin in late 2011 or early 2012. Customers who choose to have their accounts transitioned will get Office 365 for small businesses for free for three months. More information on Office 365 and Office Live Small Business is available here.
Yes! If you currently have Office for Mac 2008, you can use that seamlessly together with Office 365. However, Office for Mac is not available as part of Office 365. Customers can also get Office Professional Plus desktop software for PCs as part of the service today.
You get a lot of options. We believe that one size does NOT fit all, and customers want choices. That's why we offer a range of options from basic e-mail for $2 per user per month to a complete solution for $27 per user per month that includes full Office Professional Plus desktop software, along with Office Web Apps; the most advanced versions of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online; 24/7 phone support; advanced IT controls; and on-premises use rights for voice - in short, the most complete solution for business productivity available in the cloud. More info and examples of plans is available in the Office 365 Fact Sheet.
Beta sign up is available on office365.microsoft.com. We are initially testing with a few thousand organizations globally and expanding from there. After you sign up, you’ll get two e-mails. The first will confirm that we are reserving your place in line. The second will let you know if you’re in the first round. If you don’t get in the first round, we do plan to expand the beta to more organizations over time. So sign up to reserve your place in line today.
Earlier today, visitors were clicking “submit” on the beta sign up form, and the page was refreshing mistakenly. This will be fixed shortly. Please look for your confirmation e-mail to confirm that your registration was received.
Yes. Slots are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, but we may also select customers to ensure the beta includes a diverse population from companies of all sizes, partners, and different regions around the world. And, of course, we pre-invited some of the customers and partners who have been helping us test alpha versions of Office 365 and our services.
The web site went live at 12 noon pacific today, but it takes time for URLs to propagate across the net around the world. If you experience issues, go straight to the site at http://office365.microsoft.com/.
Yes! We have awesome partners who are getting ready to help our customers get the most from Office 365. You can find one here.
No! With Office 365, we can provide our technology to customers on a more frequent basis, while customers save money at the same time - typically anywhere from 10-50%. Today, the average mid-sized company only upgrades Office every six to seven years. With Office 365, they can always be on the cusp of the next wave in productivity-boosting technology.
There is really no comparison between the two. Office 365 does more for your business and offers enterprise-caliber applications you can trust. This is one of the key reasons businesses, governments and schools worldwide are choosing Microsoft's cloud solutions today, and why we think they'll continue to do so in the future. Tim Harmon at Forrester Research said it well in this article - "[Office 365] leapfrogs beyond current offerings like GoogleApps and IBM's LotusLive".
Keep your questions coming on Twitter, and I'll post answers to the top ones again tomorrow!
Hi Allen: Thanks for the reply. I realise my questions are somewhat complicated but this is due to my eager expectation of things to come.
In regards to question 1: A good example might be my account with my electricity utilities service provider. I can log into my account and view balances and even join the blogs or complaints process. In order to log in to my account I am not required to pay their license agreements which enables them to give me a website client login. The point I guess is to have a secure login for outside client users while having the ability to communicate to them about things only related to them and even give them the ability to buy online through their account.
With small business live, it is not possible to write custom web parts thus making it difficult to write a module on top of a list which will provide client login abilities etc... If it were possible one could then draw customer information from the list according to the login credentials and type of list. It is like having a team site for the outside clients.
In office small business live one can display lists via the module view and even add detail to lists through the forms module.
Do you think office365 will be more flexible to build web parts and even modules to facilitate outside client logins into SharePoint lists? Where can I find out more about Sandbox Solutions.
In regards to question 4: Dynamics have a variety of functions which can be presented in web parts etc... These functions can help make business easy by enabling services like CRM and financial tools to enable e-store and other capabilities.
@Cilliers: I understand you situation, I'll follow up with my SharePoint guys. SharePoint Online has much more ability to be customized with both sandbox solutions (a little information is here: www.microsoft.com/.../details.aspx) as well as out of the box web parts. My thought without doing the proper research is yes, although it'll take some development work on your side. That being said, the public facing site is more of a "small business", "get you started as you grow" offer vs one that is meant to be the mainstay solution for a larger and growing business, so there I'll have to confirm.
As for CRM, Dynamics is set to become part of Office 365 in the coming year. We've yet to announce timeliness or prices, so stay tuned for that.
Again, I'll follow up further shortly.
@Cilliers: After talking to my engineers, the situation is pretty complicated and tricky. We are shipping a "external shareing" capability with site collections, but this allows external users with permissions the access to a site, not specifically an experience tailored for that user based on their login. From a public website perspective, visitors are anonymous and then wouldn't be albe to see anything but what is public on the website. So depending on whether this is more of the first or second will depend on if you can do it. We won't be able to suppor the "Electic Company" scenario though.
Hope this helps, let me know if you need more clarification.
Does Office 365 work with VBA automation functionalities?
André Luiz Bernardes
A&A® - Work smart, not hard.
Blog Office VBA: inanyplace.blogspot.com
Blog Excel: brzexceldeveloper.blogspot.com
Blog Access: brzaccessdeveloper.blogspot.com
@Andre: Office Pro Plus in Office 365 is the same Office bits as Office 2010, so any VBA development you've done that works with Office 2010 today will continue to work in Office 365.
I have given some thought to the external shareing feature. Tell me if my assumptions are correct.
1. The external sharing feature does not require additional fees for each user.
2. It only allows users with access (Win live accounts) to enter a specific site.
3. The site to which access is given is not the public facing web site and therefore does not require anonymous access
4. One can therefore create sandbox solutions to allow users to change their details in a list of a specific site by creating a login capability for that list. This will cause double login for a user but only when details needs to be changed.
- Will this external sharing feature enable the non paying account users to participate in blogs, wiki’s and discussion forums on the site to which access has been granted? This of course does not include the users from having the normal office365 application privileges but only SharePoint collaboration to a site. I am not sure to what extent MS Access will be available but maybe the same result might be achieved through an access user database.
Once again thank you for helping me find the answers to my questions.
@Cilliers: can you email me at Office365@microsoft.com? I'll need to get folks to help me with your questions, I don't want to steer you wrong.
Well, it's been two weeks since the announcement of Office 365 and the response is more than we could have hoped for. Clearly, this is a solution that a lot of customers are excited about, and it's resonated across a lot of Microsoft Web properties. Here's a quick rundown of the resources around the web that will hopefully help you find the content that's most interesting to you.
We have unveiled how Microsoft partners will benefit from selling Office 365 . And we've answered a lot of questions from customers and others . Microsoft experts posted on the transition to from BPOS to Office 365 , and we answered many of their questions , too. If you're on BPOS, be sure to visit the Transition Center for more information. If you're using Office Live Small Business, check out this post about what Office 365 has to offer.
We've also heard about Office 365 from the perspective of the Office , SharePoint , Exchange , and Lync teams, as well as why Office 365 represents the continuation of Microsoft leadership in the productivity space. We even managed to get down to some of the nitty-gritty details of the Office 365 offerings as well as how Office Professional Plus works as a subscription service . Finally, if you're interested in some outside perspectives on Office 365 (and we hope you are), see what Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, ComputerWorld , and TechCrunch have to say.
Whew! And still months away from launch...so stay tuned to this blog, our Facebook page , and our Twitter feed for all the latest news on Office 365.
-Allen, Office 365 Product Manager