I’ve been hearing about Office 365, so I signed up and am giving it a whirl. There’s much to talk about, but here’s some notable first impressions:
BES is not supported. I don’t know if there’s a way to integrate BES servers into your environment, but MS doesn’t support BES. You can connect a Blackberry using IMAP. If you do that, you have to sync contacts and calendars manually. ActiveSync is fully supported.
If you have Office 2010 Professional Plus installed and integrated with Office 365, you cannot use web apps. You have to use the installed apps and then save into Sharepoint.
Office Web Apps are significantly stripped down versions of the Office Apps. They will probably be fine for most Office users, but this should be understood before making choices.
Office Web Apps can be used in IE, Firefox, and Safari. I haven’t tested Chrome, but I’m sure that works too.
It appears that Live Meeting has been rolled into Lync. That’s great!
Lync can be accessed using OWA, but it’s a stripped down version.
Sharepoint Workspace is probably the best way to connect into Sharepoint file stores, but it is possible to map drives into the file stores. I doubt this is advisable.
It’s possible to pick individual Office 365 services instead of the designated “plans.” This ala carte ordering system allows you to spend as little as $2 a month for Lync only or as much as you’d like. The nice thing about this is that if you are already licensed for Office 2010 Professional Plus, you can pick plan E2 and add-on services thus saving $12 per user per month (for Office).
Exchange Online Archiving is $4 per user per month. I think that’s a good price.
Office 365 is a very powerful service. It enables organizations to quickly put up Exchange and Sharepoint environments in very little time. Office 365 can be about as simple or as complex as the user needs.
That’s pretty much it for now off the top of my head. I recommend organizations of all sizes become knowledgable in the capabilities of Office 365. It gives companies the ability to replace significant amounts of infrastructure with a very capable service. And for small companies it puts them on a level playing field with the big boys. I hate to say it, but once it’s rolled out, it requires very little back-end IT attention.
I have been a loyal IE user since Windows 95. I even had IE installed on my iMac back in the 90’s. I’ve stuck with IE on Windows 7 even though I have Firefox and Chrome installed. IE just doesn’t work in every situation. For some reason I can’t edit forms properly on some sites. I’ve noticed this on Invision Power Board based sites. There are other sites where the menus won’t load right or the ads are in the wrong spots. It’s very annoying. I try the same site on Chrome and magically it works!
One of the most peculiar IE9 issues I run into is with ConstantContact.com. Constant Contact tells me that I’m using IE7! WTF? I know this is ConstantContacts fault, but that’s pretty messed up.
Microsoft rolled out a new search engine last year. Of course, it needed marketing pizzaz that was Focus Group Approved®. They decided to call it “Bing.” God knows that the technology is unimportant as long as the name is catchy. /sarcasm off
It stinks of Steve Ballmerism who apparently fired someone for not being “Bing” enough.
What really set me off today was an ad like the one below where the user sees the Bing page and comments on how beautiful it is.
I find Microsofts attempt to promote a search engine with a cheesy name and pretty pictures contrived, disingenuous, and vomit inducing.
I received an InfoWorld article called “Microsoft exec: Desktop application software is not dead.” The short story is that Microsoft claims that Google and others cannot provide the same level of service and quality through web based apps as Microsoft can through installed apps. While Microsoft is technically correct in the short term, this will change. Let me predict what Microsoft is going to do right now. Microsoft will develop a fully functioning version of Office. Then they will market it as a brilliant idea that they thought of and perfected. Microsoft will claim that they did it first and they did it best, when in reality neither will likely be true. Until then, expect Microsoft to deride Google, IBM, Sun, and others. What’s new?
I have been playing with the Google Apps. They are super cool. The two featured apps are Documents and Spreadsheets. They are web based Word and Excel type applications. They allow users to use the basic functionality of Word and Excel without the costly licenses or bloated software. Also, they are available to all users because they are OS agnostic. Another cool feature is that you can save to web. That means that if you create a document at work, you can have it at home. There is not the same need to worry about versioning.
Other cool features include the ability to upload documents, save to Word/PDF/HTML/OpenOffice/Excel/CSV, export to Blog including WordPress, collaborate with other Google Apps users, and much more. Check it out.