Microsoft's (News - Alert) ubiquitous Office suite has been more or less synonymous with productivity for years. The release of Office 365 about a year and a half ago though, was a real step up for the company as it offers everything businesses and individuals loved about Office and more in a subscription-based format.
This was a timely move on Microsoft's part as the cloud was beginning to really gain steam and bringing Office to the cloud allowed it to stay ahead of competitors like Google (News - Alert) with its Google Apps cloud suite, especially since Office 365 brings Microsoft's years of experience with Office to the table.
At its core, of course, Office 365 features the entire classic Office suite everyone is familiar with — including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote —but also adds online file sharing and collaboration tools, a shared calendar and e-mail, and instant messaging and conferencing with Lync 2010. Office 365 is also extremely mobile friendly with Exchange e-mail, calendar and contact syncing for practically every type of smart device — including Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Symbian (News - Alert) and Blackberry devices.
As such, Office 365 is much more than a simple productivity suite, making it suitable for pretty much any type of company in any industry. In other words, if a company uses e-mail, Office 365 is worth taking a look at.
It doesn't matter the size of the business, either, as Microsoft has plans suitable for the smallest start ups to large multinationals. For example, Office 365 Small Business is available to any company with under 50 employees and costs $6 per month per user and pretty much only differs from the enterprise plans in that it lacks enterprise-specific features. Furthermore, Office 365 Small Business just upgraded its free 30 day trial to a free 90-day trial until the end of February 2013.
Aside from the enterprise and small business options, Microsoft also offers a basic hosted e-mail package for around $4 per user per month.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein