Microsoft Office and Exchange has always been the backbone for many corporate and business enterprises. With the launch of Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft is bringing their desktop/server based system to the cloud, enabling professionals to access their emails, important documents, contacts, and calendar from almost anywhere and any device.
Microsoft Office 365 is not just your regular Microsoft Office in the web. It also comprises of Outlook, Sharepoint and Lync where you can access your email and collaborate with others. Some of you might think that Microsoft is late to the game and Google Apps has already got the area covered. You are wrong. After testing out Microsoft Office 365, I feel that Office 365 is much more superior (in terms of features and functionality) and is able to integrate better with your desktop/Exchange system. However, it is also more expensive than Google Apps, starting at US$6 per user.
There are few components in Office 365: Office web app, Outlook web app, Lync and Team site.
Office Web App
Microsoft has released the Office web app for consumer. Once you are logged in to your Windows live account, you can view, edit and create documents with the Office web app. In Office 365, this same Office Web app is there as well. Applications that it supports include Ms Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Outlook Web App
The outlook web app is pretty handy and works exactly the same as the desktop version. The default email account is your office365 account (companyname.onmicrosoft.com), but you can easily set it up to sync with your desktop outlook. The calendar, contacts and tasks feature remain intact.
In the contact section under Outlook, you can also select a contact and immediately start a chat session with him/her. This brings us to another feature of Office 365 – Lync
Microsoft Lync, formerly known as Communications Server, is a instant messaging platform where you can send message, audio, video and VoIP. You can either install the desktop client (supports only Windows) or receive messages via the web interface. For the desktop client, you can also share your desktop with others during online meeting.
Team site is where you can create a website for your business and also manage the documents in a centralized place. When you create a document in the Office web app, the document will be saved in the Team site.
Advantage of using Office365
Well integrated Microsoft Office suite, all in the web. If your company are already using Microsoft Exchange, then this will make it easier for you to interact and collaborate with each other.
99.9% uptime guarantee. This is almost the industry standard. It also means that as long as you are connected to the web, you will have access to your documents and emails.
Disadvantage of using Office365
Too complex – Everything in one solution. You either get all the features or none. Google Apps tied all the module together, yet allowing you to access each module individually.
Overly integrated – You can unleash the full potential of Office 365 only if you are using the Windows OS and carry a Windows Phone 7, or should I say, submerge yourselves in a full Windows environment.
All in all, for companies that are looking to move to the cloud and be more productive in the office, Office365 is definitely a great choice. While there are advantages and disadvantages, there is no doubt about the quality of its offering.
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