Microsoft Office 365 - Your Office in the Clouds
Microsoft Office still holds a very strong position in the small business world despite some serious competition from Google, who boasts having their software package hosted online. The latest incarnation of the Microsoft Office suite, named Office 365, is designed to rival Google's offering. Today we're going to talk about Microsoft's hosted productivity software and see what the pros and cons are for small businesses.
First of all, both Microsoft and Google's focus are on the small and medium-sized business when it comes to their cloud productivity software. I won't even begin to compare Microsoft's service offering to Google's (we'll save that for another post down the road) as Office 365 is currently in a live beta. One of the big benefits of hosted application solutions is the usually low upfront cost and the speed of which you can get a new user set up. Our technicians would be able to set up a new user in minutes while on the phone with you, instead of having to find a product key, install the Office suite, and get everything configured. The Suite includes the following familiar Apps: Outlook (Calendar, Contacts and Email), Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, a Sharepoint Team/Public Site, and an online meeting package. The applications are snappy and load quickly and while they aren't as robust as the classic desktop versions, most users won't notice the parts that have been stripped out. If you are running the latest Office Suite on your workstation, you can also choose to open documents there to get the full experience, and kick them back to Office 365 (simply by saving) when you are done to share and collaborate. With that said, Office 365 is a hosted solution. You need access to the Internet to get to your files. You would be relying on your Internet Connection as your biggest potential point of failure. No Internet would mean no access to your documents which would mean downtime. That's plain and simple. However, if your connection to the net is stable, you shouldn't run into that often. The collaboration tools were definitely attractive, allowing you to put together an internal website in just a few minutes with access to data and documents. The tools work on many devices, including mobile smart phones, so staying connected and getting quick access to files and information is easy. All in all, Microsoft Office 365 is shaping up to be a very attractive contender in the hosted apps market; they are definitely trying to raise the bar for collaboration and ease of use. While some apps in the bundle might be limited compared to their desktop versions, the feature set is still very attractive, especially considering it only costs a few dollars a month per user. Want to know if Microsoft Office 365 (or another hosted solution) is right for your business? Give us a call at 607.433.2200 for a free consultation.