Microsoft has launched a cloud-based version of its Office business suite called Office 365, in an attempt to re-take the slim ground it had reportedly begun conceding to Google’s online services.
A beta version of the software was launched in October last year, with more than 200,000 businesses around the world agreeing to help test the product, Microsoft says.
Around 70% of these were small or medium-sized businesses, the group Microsoft is hoping to target with the new software.
"Office 365 brings the collaboration tools that big businesses have enjoyed for years will within the reach of small business budgets,” says Rachel Turney, Office 365 product manager for Microsoft New Zealand.
The advantage of taking Office online is that users pay a monthly subscription for use of the software, sparing businesses the trouble of continually purchasing, installing and maintaining the software.
It also means the software can be accessed on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets from wherever the user can reach an internet connection.
Subscriptions range in price from $6.11 per user, per month for a basic service to $43 for the works. Microsoft says a business can have Office Web Apps, Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online plus an external website for $9.25 per user, per month.
"Even small businesses have access to the best collaboration technology,” Turney says.
Google has responded to the release aggressively, with Google Apps product manager Shan Sinha posting a blog titled ‘365 reasons to consider Google Apps’ which suggests that the Office suite has grown too old to revamp.
"At times like these,” Sinha writes, "it’s worth considering a clean-slate: an approach based on entirely modern technologies, designed for today’s business world.”
Go here for more information on Office 365.