When Microsoft first launched BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) I had been working for Microsoft New Zealand as a Technology Advisor for just on a year. My experience with cloud solutions pre-dates my time at Microsoft and that gave me some insight as to what this meant for Microsoft as a business. Not only did they make the step into the hosting business, competing against some of their most loyal partners, but they fundamentally changed the way in which they saw their own software. The Office 365 preview was launched this week, and along side it the next version of Microsoft Office, 2013. This falls in line with something I predicted when BPOS was first launched, Cloud will become the way in which you consume Microsoft Software from now on.
The evolution is totally natural and in line with what the industry as a whole is witnessing. Programs have become Apps and more importantly Servers have become a Service. Microsofts licensing model has been playing a game of catchup with this massive change, we have seen a credit card only experience mature into a more traditional distribution model, allowing customers to buy Microsoft cloud services via their regular channels/relationships. http://rcpmag.com/articles/2012/07/09/wpc-2012-office-365-partners-to-get-direct-billing.aspx
Office 365 has become the way in which you buy Microsoft’s Office Suite and all of the associated back office services, Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync. Furthermore it opens up a rich marketplace for partners to show their wares. Office 365 has only been in market for just over a year having had a long gestation period that was fraught with delay after delay (some 9 months or more), its refreshing to see that Microsoft has learnt from its mistakes and with little warning released the beta of the next release of its Office 365 platform known as Wave 15.
Over the next few weeks I hope to share with you some of my observations, covering off some of the improvements to the services and the integration points into your on-premise software. There are many such improvements to talk about, Loryan Strant from Paradyne in Australia has listed a few here: http://thecloudmouth.com/2012/07/17/office-365-wave-15-whats-new/
Hot on my list is the new Sharepoint Experience coupled with Office 2013, this will put out any Google fires within your organisation, along with Lync “click to call” … watch this space New Zealand there are providers working furiously on this capability.
To setup a 9 month trial of the Office 365 beta go here: http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en/try-office-preview , I suggest that you choose the Enterprise edition and remember that once you create a tenant account you should be able to add the other products bu clicking the appropriate link and using that ID to authenticate again.
It has been an action packed month for Microsoft, starting with the announcement that they will sell their own tablet device to take on Apples iPad, to the launch of its next generation productivity suite in Office 365 / Office 2013. And if that wasnt enough, Microsoft announced today that Windows 8 will be available on the 26th of October http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/bloggingwindows/archive/2012/07/18/windows-8-will-be-available-on.aspx .
A big year ahead for Microsoft and I am betting those working for Google have something to worry about!