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By: Clint Patterson
Just one month ago, we introduced Office 365 to the world, and the response has been awesome. We continue to see great press and analyst coverage, fantastic partner support, and amazing customer interest. 5,000 people 'like' Office 365 on Facebook, more than 4,000 follow Office 365 on Twitter, thousands more read this blog every day, and more than 60,000 organizations have signed up for the beta - roughly 2,000 per day.
With all the buzz, we've seen lots of questions about the beta process and when will 'my' account be activated. So we wanted to take the chance to answer some of the top questions help folks understand what to expect.
1) When does the beta start?
It has already started. We are adding more organizations to the beta gradually over several weeks, so we're always adding new testers every day.
2) Why is the beta limited?
There are lots of reasons, but two are really important: First, we want everyone testing Office 365 to have a great experience, and second, we need to be able to test things like scalability and performance in a controlled environment. Limiting the beta ensures we can do both.
3) Will there be a "public" beta?
We expect to be able to add more folks to the beta, but we don't know when or how many just yet because we just started testing.
A public beta is something we always do for software products, but it's not always necessary for cloud services. With software, a public beta helps us test the near-infinite number of environments customers have, but with a cloud service, we have only one environment - our data centers. So, with cloud services, we will often gate beta access, as we did with betas for BPOS, Azure and Intune.
4) How many people get into the beta?
We're limiting the beta to just a few thousand organizations initially. Each organization will be able to roll out 25 accounts.
5) If I'm registered for the beta, how do I know if I got in?
You'll get an e-mail from us with your account credentials.
6) How are you determining who gets into the beta?
To start, you have to meet the requirements for the beta, like being in one of the thirteen countries and regions where it's available. Basic stuff like that. After that, it is basically first-come, first served, but there are a couple of exceptions. First, some early beta slots were allocated to existing customers who have been helping us design our cloud services. We figure that's the least we could do. Second, we require a geographically diverse set of testers. So, for example, if all the first applicants were in Hong Kong, we would eventually have to skip until we found the first applicants in Spain, Singapore and Germany.
7) Is the beta feature complete?
Not entirely. While it is mostly feature complete, we are still adding new capabilities, as is the case with most betas. Before we launch Office 365, we will add some additional capabilities, such as Lync Online capabilities from the newly released server, for example.
8) What happens if I have not gotten into the beta yet?
You'll get a monthly e-mail from us with the latest status on the service until you get in or we launch. We won't forget about you, and you'll be among the very first to learn when the service launches.
9) What should I do in the meantime? I really want to try out your service!
You can test BPOS with a free, 30-day trial right now (trust us, no wait list). BPOS combines Exchange Online and SharePoint Online with Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online (soon to be Lync Online). You'll be in pretty elite company - Volvo, DuPont, Godiva, GAP, GlaxoSmithKline, Energizer, Starbucks, Tyco, Rexel and thousands of others have chosen BPOS for their business today. And if you subscribe to BPOS, you can move to Office 365 when it launches next year. (For more details on that transition, check out our BPOS transition center.)
10) So, if I haven't signed up for the beta already, should I even bother?
Yes. Bother! Signing up for the beta holds your place in line, so the fastest way to get into the beta is to sign up now.
Thanks for your enthusiasm and great questions. Keep them coming!
Are you planning on building an Australian Datacenter to run Office 365 - I have many customers that I could switch to this product however the upload speed & latency is very slow between here and where BPOS is currently hosted (singapore?)
We are BPOS users. Microsoft announced that existing BPOS users would not require effort for transition. My question is; I created a lot of complex workflows on SharePoint Online. Are those workflows going to be transitioned automatically without effort too?
@Dave. Thanks for the feedback on speed and latency, but unfortunately I don't have an answer for you at this time.
@Haruhiko: Probably won't be automatically transitioned. Some of the technologies with SharePoint Online 2010 are going to be different from the 2007 version, so you'll have to account for that. Best place for more info would be the Services Description www.microsoft.com/.../details.aspx or on Technet or MSDN.
@Dave I thought that BPOS for Australian businesses was only available from Telstra. Is this correct? I would of thought they would be hosting it in Australia if Telstra is the only partner offering BPOS.
@Allen_MSFT: Can you provide some insights on the future of SPLA and current Exchange hosting partners, since O365 will be much cheaper than what Microsoft sells to its own partners ?
@George: can you contact me at Office365@microsoft.com? Thanks!
Would anyone at Microsoft care to comment on Matthew's previous remarks? (see below)
Exactly where do the Microsoft Partners fit into the Office 365 'vision' once they've sold it to their clients on behalf of Microsoft. Do they still have a significant role?
Because the relatively few clients I've discussed it with are all looking at 365 as a major cost cutting option that will allow them drastically reduce or eliminate their need for in-house and local contract IT support.
Not a hard assumption for them to make since "without the IT hassles" is one of the selling points currently being used by Microsoft.
Can you offer us anything beyond the usual assurances that MS Partners will remain a 'valued and important part' of Microsoft's business plans? Especially once we have finished assisting our SME clients in transitioning over to 365?
Because as it now stands, I can't see any ongoing role for Partners other than end-user application training.and hardware maintenance once the transition is completed
posted Jan 14, 2011 9:06 AM
from what I can see of office 365, it is that we the user's of these system's will not need "partners" any more. We will be empowered to implement change, quicker and without the cost that has been associated with working partners in the past to the benefit of our business, never again will a good idea rest upon the will or want of someone who does not work or understand the business
Any tentative timeframe for the commercial of office365
Q2 or Q3 of this year???
@Votre: I'd encourage you to check out the most recent post on our blog about the "Voice of the Partner." community.office365.com/.../partners-with-office-365-resources-and-announcing-voice-of-the-partner.aspx. Microsoft Partners can provide unique value to customers by transforming from managing customer servers to managing the customer's experience in the cloud. Examples: IT and business consulting, deployment and migration assistance, customization, and continually manage services such as support and IT management. These key unique value-adds are crucial and provides a complete solution for the customer. In addition, Office 365 enables partners to deliver reach millions of small business customers more easily, to deliver more complete services including Office and advanced SharePoint capabilities, and unlock new business opportunities such as collaboration with remote employees and partners.
@Kiran: There are no official release dates yet, so stay tuned to the blog and Office365.com.
as per your instructions above I have e-mailed you at the provided address on the 26th of January.
Just following up to see if you received my e-mail since I haven't received a reply yet.
Apologies George, could you email me again? I seem to either have missed it or somehow it got lost. Office365@microsoft.com
So, I guess we would simply go with BPOS for now. which is $10/standard user.
however, any idea on how the pricing would change after migrating to O365.
@Kiran, those who sign up for BPOS will be transitioned to Office 365 at the same $10 per user per year, with an equivalent offer. So no price changes.
Thanks Allen, thats great.
so, I am guessing the "Deskless worker suite" which is $3 in BPOS will actually go down to $2 with O365's "kiosk worker".
2) BPOS has all of the 2007 suite of office products, and O365 is all 2010 office suite. so, during migration, do we (customers )have to do any thing to upgrade/migrate, or is the upgrade handled completely by the O365's team.
@Kiran, Yes, that is correct about Kiosk workers. Also, the migration is handled on our end, so no, you won't have to worry about any upgrades or migration. You just need to make sure you are compliant with the specifications listed on Office365.com.