Microsoft Office 365: Your Guide to a Slew of Versions, Prices

With the new Office 365, Microsoft is saying bye to BPOS and re-packaging some collaboration and Office apps. But as usual, it produced a confusing pile of versions: We break down your options.

Wed, October 20, 2010

CIO — With the newly-branded Office 365, announced this week, Microsoft (MSFT) has taken its BPOS (business productivity online suite) service and added Office apps options. But while Microsoft dumped a bad product name for a better one, the company repeated a longtime marketing habit with Office 365: a confusing array of versions and price points.

BPOS today features online versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Lync (formerly Office Communicator) and Video conferencing tool Live Meeting.

But with Office 365, currently available in beta and set to go live in 2011, Microsoft will roll Live Meeting into Lync Online and add Office Applications, either as Web apps or desktop software, depending on the version you choose. When Office 365 launches it will include 2010 versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync.

One point worth noting: Microsoft is NOT putting the full client version of Office in the cloud with Office 365. It is offering the Office Professional Plus desktop version, which will run on a PC and not in the cloud, as part of the most expensive enterprise version of Office 365 ($24 per user, per month). What's new here is that Microsoft is offering a client version of Office for a monthly fee instead of its usual method of an upfront, full payment.

Office 365
Office 365 for Enterprises includes Microsoft cloud services and Office Professional Plus desktop software.

As with BPOS, users will have the option to purchase the different components of Office 365 (Exchange, SharePoint, Lync) as stand-alone products.

Confused yet? To clarify, here's a summary of all the information you need to know about the features, versions and prices of Office 365.

Office 365 for Small Businesses

For SMBs, which equates to companies with 1 to 50 employees and limited IT resources, Microsoft is offering a $6 per user per month version of Office 365.

Included in the small business version are:

  • Office Web Apps for viewing, editing and sharing documents.

  • Exchange Online for e-mail, contacts and calendaring with access on PC, Mac, Windows Phone, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry — mailbox is 25GB with anti-virus and anti-spam included.

  • SharePoint Online for Microsoft Office Access services, password-protected team sites and a public Web site.

  • Lync Online for instant messaging, presence, and video and audio conferencing.

  • Guaranteed 99.9 percent service uptime.

  • 24x7 moderated community-based support.

Microsoft recommends that organizations that require Active Directory Federation Services, archiving for legal compliance, BlackBerry service or phone support should consider Office 365 for Enterprises.

Office 365 for Enterprises

Microsoft offers an enterprise version of Office 365 with different options for the C-level executives who need every tool, information workers who need most of the tools and deskless workers who only need the bare necessities.

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