As the month of November is almost in sight, a lot of thoughts of holidays are filling people's minds including Thanksgiving and Black Friday (News - Alert), or maybe just the first snowfall. Though for some, there's something else that will join turkey legs and lots of shopping and inclement weather: a slew of new products, and prices for Microsoft (News - Alert) Office 365.
Until recently, Microsoft Office 365 was little more than shorthand for Microsoft's Google (News - Alert) Apps counter-punch. It's commonly referred to the bundle comprised of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. Now, it will refer to any Office product being sold as an annual subscription. Earlier this year we got a first look at what was to be included in Office 365: Office 365 Home Premium, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 ProPlus, and Office 365 Enterprise. That's a solid lineup in and of itself, but that's just the beginning of what's going on here. The final lineup will not only include the four titles previously mentioned, but two wholly new titles as well in Office 365 Small Business and Office 365 Midsize Business.
The Small Business version, as it turns out, is actually a slight step down from Small Business Premium. While Small Business Premium offered some important features--cloud-based e-mail, shared calendars, a team site for sharing files, HD video conferencing, a set of office apps from PC and Mac platforms, and round-the-clock phone support--Small Business has all of that except for the Office apps. Thus, those looking to save a little cash and not needing the Office apps can find just what they need, and it's likely to be priced between $8.33 and $12.50 a month, which is where Home Premium and Small Business Premium are priced.
As for Midsize Business, it's geared toward, as the name implies, medium-sized businesses. It's set to power an admin portal with both Active Directory and Office Client in full deployment, as well as a regularly-updated version of Office 365 ProPlus and the standard range of Office 365 tools, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. It's slated to launch at $15 a month per user, and it's geared toward businesses that have between 11 and 250 users.
It's interesting to see Microsoft add on a couple tiers of product offerings, especially when it provides a bit of extra range. While Small Business allows a lower, more entry-level step for small businesses, Midsize Business slots right in between Small Business Premium and Enterprise in order for businesses to more closely select a version of Office 365 that meets their individual needs. Now less likely than ever to select a version that's too much program for them or even too little, businesses have the best chance at not wasting money, ultimately improving the bottom line.
Microsoft's new packages should be well-received by businesses, and the end result should produce plenty of dividend for all concerned.
Edited by Jamie Epstein