Microsoft Office365 is Microsoft’s online suite of tools enabling email, web apps (think Microsoft Office online), web sites and collaboration, online meetings and instant messaging (and more).
Last year Microsoft launched the private beta version of Office 365. Earlier this month Microsoft launched the public beta. Later this year Microsoft is expected to take Office365 out of beta and launch the “full version”. (Personally I think all of these betas are needless but I think “beta” gives any software publisher public notice to users and says “we expect a few glitches”)
While Microsoft has enabled users to access Exchange online for many years through “Outlook for Web Access” there has always been a challenge to enable users to fully use their familiar Microsoft Office applications in the cloud – Office365 is Microsoft’s offering to enable this to happen.
The email an calendar feature offers you an almost identical look, feel and features online as you would experience using Microsoft Outlook from your desktop with full collaboration with your team.
Microsoft’s web apps enable you to edit (and of course view) Word, Excel and PowerPoint in a browser – no need to download or have the full software on your computer. All the features of the full “rich client” are not available, but for “on the go” computing and productivity you can get a lot done.
Sharing files online is not new and Microsoft has had a variety of applications to help do this. Office365 continues to have a full suite of online services, largely based on Sharepoint to enable you to share files and build web sites.
There’s lots to like about Office365, but one of the most impressive things I saw is how fast Office365 updates across devices. If you update an Excel document on your phone, your colleagues gets the update on their phone or desktop computer almost instantly.
Office365 also has a marketplace enabling developers to provide custom software solutions that integrate seamlessly with Office365, providing customers with solutions for their specific industries and needs.
There are a variety of great tools for online collaboration and communication including Google Apps, Zoho, Cisco WebOffice. Which one you use is really based on what you want and how you work now.