10 things about Office 365 you might not know

Get in the cloud - office 365 logoA few weeks ago, Microsoft sent waves through the IT world with the announcement of Office 365. Today, everyone is still asking questions, as the nuances of the licensing and online products are made public.

Softchoice’s online technology specialist, Brett LaForge, is hosting a series of webinars this week to clear up the confusion around Office 365 and give evidence of how this cloud-based technology might be a game changer for your organization.

Here’s a summary of some of the key questions we are being asked around 365. As more details come out, and as we discover more from Microsoft directly, we will continue to keep you posted right here on the blog.

1. User profiles:

With Office 365, user classification breaks down into two distinct categories, and depending on your users, you will buy the appropriate plan : Kiosk Worker (K plans) and Information Workers (E plans)

2. The difference between K and E plans

K Workers need very simple collaboration tools. Could be a receptionist, worker on the factory floor, a nurse. These plans have a significantly lower cost. There are two K options: K1 – light email, access to company portal. K2 – adds on Office Web Apps

E Workers – much more comprehensive, plans can include Archiving, Voicemail, Office Pro Plus. Day to day information workers.

Tip: To get a look at some detailed cost comparisons, you can download, and take a look at the slide show here: link. http://www.slideshare.net/softchoice/softchoice-webinar-microsoft-office-365

3. Security and compliancy concerns

Many people are asking about security and compliancy regulations.  We’re working on addressing how the transition from Microsoft’s current Cloud offering BPOS to Office 365 will impact things like the Patriot Act, HPPA , etc.  We’ll stay on top of this and keep you posted on the blog as we learn more

4. Are there any huge differences between the traditional Office Pro Plus and the one available under Office 365?

No, not really. It is the exact same product, still installed on premise The only difference is that Office 365 is available under subscription rather than traditional licensing.

5. Are customers able to move to Office Web Apps instead of Office Pro?

Quick answer is yes. The longer one, is yes, but first you really have to get to know your users. Understand that with Web Apps, your functionality is limited. But if  you never need to install a pivot chart on Excel, or are a really soft user, then Web Apps might do.

6. Huge cost difference?:

Is Office 365  more cost effective? Yes and no. you really have to take a look at your environment. As an example: Office Pro is per user license with 365, but under traditional licenses it is per device. So if you have several devices you could see huge cost reductions under 365.

7. The transition to Office 365

We looked at how a few example customers would transition from their current EAs, whether they are on BPOS already or not, and the kinds of steps it will take to enter into Office 365 for at least a fraction of the users. In some cases you can do it all at once, in other cases you may do it in steps during anniversary periods. If you are currently on BPOS, you would transition to Office 365 three to six months after launch, in March 2011.

8. Speaking of EA’s – what’s this amendment?

Microsoft has created an amendment to give organizations the flexibility to transition into 365 and integrate it into their current Enterprise Agreement. Only organizations that really are considering Office 365 need to sign this amendment – otherwise there’d be no point.

9. As a BPOS user, am I forced to bump up to Office 365?

Nope. You are not forced to migrate. Sticking with BPOS is fine – but you might be leaving savings, and potential performance enhancing improvements to your organization, on the table.

10. Does Office 365 support Blackberry?

Yes. If you have a BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server), you have options to continue with your current email solution. However, note that Microsoft offers Blackberry Enterprise services at an additional cost.

The bottom line: Knowing your people.

The number one take away is that, no matter what, you really have to know your users in order to understand if Office 365 is right for your organization. It stands to offer tons of value to your team – either improving efficiency company-wide or simply lowering total licensing costs. But if it’s not a fit – it could have the reverse impact.

The cloud is not right for everyone. It is our job to help you figure out what scenario will give your organization the most benefit. If you have questions about cloud-hosted productivity apps, Office 365 or anything else, please take a moment to write your questions in the comments below and we will get back to!

Brett LaForge is the Online Technology Specialist at Softchoice. Send your direct questions to him at Brett.LaForge@Softchoice.com

About Tobin Dalrymple

Tobin Dalrymple is a longtime Softchoice contributor and the IEF program writer living in Montreal.