Microsoft takes Office to the cloud with Office 365

Microsoft and Telstra have teamed to bring the Office suite to the cloud. Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Lync are now available online through a subscription model.

The office in the cloud is finally here, Microsoft Office 365 that is.

After talking about it for nearly a year and gathering a global user-base of 200,000 businesses during the beta launch phase, Microsoft yesterday finally unleashed Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Lync online.

The popular suites are available by subscription and in Australia only through the Telstra T-Suite, which means you must become a Telstra customer to access the services, if not already. While it is not necessary to have Telstra as your ISP, the carrier has other products it may offer to bundle with this, including online accounting, and a digital PABX/broadband package.

Microsoft claims organisations already subscribed are saving an estimated 50 per cent in IT costs and improving productivity. We will let you be the judge of that.

But it is not hard to believe that having all the tools necessary to run a business managed and maintained by someone else is tempting and possibly cheaper than managing your own hardware and software.

Once set up, businesses have access to Office documents, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook remotely, including from mobile devices. Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint provide email, calendar and contact, and collaboration between employees, while the lesser known Lync provides an instant messaging service that integrates with the contact database and can tell you if the person you want is online when you need them.

Pricing starts at $7.90 per license (employee) per month after a 30-day free trial.

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