Microsoft Releases Next-Gen Office 365 for Business
As promised when it announced the new Office 365 subscription plans and Office 2013 suites for consumers, Microsoft today announced the worldwide availability of a major new update to its Microsoft Office 365 services for businesses. Microsoft’s most complete Office cloud service to date has new features and offerings tailored to the needs and budgets of small, medium-size, and large organizations.
In addition to updated Microsoft Lync Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft SharePoint Online services, business users can now get the rich Office applications they are familiar with, on up to five devices, delivered as an always up-to-date cloud service. Office 365 features enhanced enterprise social capabilities with SharePoint and Yammer today, and Lync-Skype connectivity for presence, instant messaging (IM), and voice by June. The new Office 365 service is available today in 69 markets and 17 languages and will be available in an additional 20 markets and 16 languages in the second quarter of this year.
A new set of Office 365 offerings designed to meet a broad variety of business requirements are also announced today. The key ones are:
- Office 365 ProPlus. Office 365 ProPlus includes the latest and most complete set of fully featured, rich Office applications - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath and Access - delivered as a service, on up to five devices. People can now simply sign in to Office 365 from any of their devices, and their documents and personalized settings roam with them, allowing them to quickly pick up right where they left off. IT departments also get the controls they need, including the ability to run Office 365 ProPlus side-by-side with other versions of Office and tools to streamline and manage updates for their users. Office 365 ProPlus is available as a standalone offering for US$144 per user for an annual subscription and is included with the updated premium Office 365 Enterprise offerings and the new Office 365 Midsize Business.
- Office 365 Midsize Business. Office 365 Midsize Business is designed for medium-sized businesses with 10 to 250 employees. This service includes Office 365 ProPlus and provides midsize businesses with enterprise-quality communication and collaboration with Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online - along with the simplified IT tools they need to maintain control while reducing complexity. Active Directory integration, a Web-based administration console and business-hours phone support are also included. Pricing is US$180 per user for an annual subscription, the equivalent of US$15 per user, per month.
- Office 365 Small Business Premium. Office 365 Small Business Premium is designed for small businesses with one to 10 employees. In addition to the complete set of rich Office applications, this service includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD videoconferencing capability in an easy-to-manage service that does not require IT expertise. Pricing is US$150 per user for an annual subscription, the equivalent of US$12.50 per user, per month. Alternatively, there's a monthly renewal plan that costs US$15 per user, per month.
Besides the above business plans, small businesses can also consider a hosted email service (using Exchange Online) that costs US$4 per user, per month. For those who can do without the Office desktop and mobile apps, there's an Office 365 Small Business plan that costs US$60 per user, per year (or US$6 per user, per month).
Similarly, for midsize and enterprise users who don't want the Office apps as a subscription, there's a tier just below Office 365 Midsize Business, called Office 365 Enterprise (Plan E1). This plan costs US$8 per user, per month. On the other end, there's a Plan E3 that costs US$20 per user, per month. This plan is meant for companies with more than 250 users, and who want everything the Midsize Business plan has to offer, as well as advanced enterprise services, such as advanced email with archiving and legal hold capabilities, tools to support compliance, hosted voicemail support with auto attendant capabilities, and advanced business intelligence.