An Overview of Microsoft Office 365

By Helen Bradley | Posted November 30, 2011

Small businesses can save a good chunk of both time and money by using hosted software tools and harnessing the power of cloud computing. Software as a Service (SaaS) makes great sense for small businesses -- you only pay for what you need and someone else does the work of data backup, security and updates.

Microsoft recently launched Office 365, which is designed to meet small business software needs. While this might sound like merely an online version of Microsoft Office, the service is much more than that. In this article, I'll explain what Office 365 is, who it is designed for and how it might benefit your small business.

Microsoft Apps and Cloud Computing

Before launching Office 365, Microsoft already offered cloud computing options -- some of which you may already use. These include Windows Live SkyDrive and the new Office Web Apps which are online, cut-down free versions of Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Excel 2010 and OneNote 2010.

Note that Office 365 replaces both Microsoft Office Live Small Business and Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).


So what is Office 365, what kind of software does it offer and can it meet your small business IT needs?

Office 365 Components

There are three versions of Office 365, one for small businesses, one for enterprise and one for education. There is no direct upgrade from small business to the enterprise version, so you want to choose the right one the first time. Luckily each version offers a 30-day free trial.

Office 365 for professionals and small business is designed to accommodate business with up to around 25 users, and it costs $6 per user per month. It includes the already-free Office Web Apps, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync.

Office 365 for Enterprises adds desktop versions of Microsoft Office Professional and some other features. You can expect to see users of BPOS moving to Office 365 because the apps here are designed to work in the cloud and work seamlessly together.

Because the Web Apps are already free for anyone to use, I'll focus on the other features of Office 365 for small business. Lync, SharePoint and the Exchange Online tools are what you're paying for in Office 365.

Microsoft Exchange Online manages your business email and information such as scheduling and calendars and contact data. As part of Office 365, it comes with spam and virus protection and 25 GB of online email storage per user. It provides email access to employees using a range of machines including Mac, PC, Android, smart phones and other devices. Basically it handles your email sending, receiving and security so you don't have to do it.

Small businesses can save a good chunk of both time and money by using hosted software tools and harnessing the power of cloud computing. Software as a Service (SaaS) makes great sense for small businesses -- you only pay for what you need and someone else does the work of data backup, security and updates.

Microsoft recently launched Office 365, which is designed to meet small business software needs. While this might sound like merely an online version of Microsoft Office, the service is much more than that. In this article, I'll explain what Office 365 is, who it is designed for and how it might benefit your small business.

Microsoft Apps and Cloud Computing

Before launching Office 365, Microsoft already offered cloud computing options -- some of which you may already use. These include Windows Live SkyDrive and the new Office Web Apps which are online, cut-down free versions of Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Excel 2010 and OneNote 2010.

Note that Office 365 replaces both Microsoft Office Live Small Business and Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

So what is Office 365, what kind of software does it offer and can it meet your small business IT needs?

Office 365 Components

There are three versions of Office 365, one for small businesses, one for enterprise and one for education. There is no direct upgrade from small business to the enterprise version, so you want to choose the right one the first time. Luckily each version offers a 30-day free trial.

Office 365 for professionals and small business is designed to accommodate business with up to around 25 users, and it costs $6 per user per month. It includes the already-free Office Web Apps, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync.

Office 365 for Enterprises adds desktop versions of Microsoft Office Professional and some other features. You can expect to see users of BPOS moving to Office 365 because the apps here are designed to work in the cloud and work seamlessly together.

Because the Web Apps are already free for anyone to use, I'll focus on the other features of Office 365 for small business. Lync, SharePoint and the Exchange Online tools are what you're paying for in Office 365.

Microsoft Exchange Online manages your business email and information such as scheduling and calendars and contact data. As part of Office 365, it comes with spam and virus protection and 25 GB of online email storage per user. It provides email access to employees using a range of machines including Mac, PC, Android, smart phones and other devices. Basically it handles your email sending, receiving and security so you don't have to do it.



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