Highlights of Microsoft 365: The New BPOS

highlighterThe one thing consistent in life is change, and no one knows that better than Microsoft.  Many of you have had read, heard, or talked about the Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS).  The first part of 2011 we will see more functionality, applications, and better experience for end users and yes- even a name change.  Office 365 will replace present day BPOS.

At the end of the day, these changes are making it easier for businesses to see value in hosted services.  Besides the name change, Microsoft is adding Office Professional and combining Live Meeting and Office Communicator to one product called “Lync” (set to launch on premise by end of year).

Moving Office Professional to a subscription based program could make sense especially if you are in the process of moving to a newer version  or have fluctuation in employee count.  Instead of paying for a license for each device in your environment, you would pay for each user.  Think about how many devices a user has – mobile phone, lap top, desktop, netbook, etc.  If you are paying per user – each user would be able to access all these devices without occurring additional licensing costs!

There will be different levels of services and applications bundled together to offer customers more flexibility.  For example, there will be SKUs specific for users who do not live and die by their email (a rarity these days) under the Kiosk of “Family K” worker program.  There will also be SKUs for the enterprise space which provides more robust and parity between on premise and cloud.  You get to choose what best fits your environment.

Exchange Online in general will see the biggest improvement.  Currently running Exchange 2007 – Office 360 will launch Exchange 2010 in the cloud first of the year.  Some of the new features in this next release include:

  • Voice mail with Unified Messaging
  • Integrated archiving – could save a bundle from 3rd party archiving solutions
  • Retention policies and legal hold

Will Microsoft ever have 100% parity between on premise and the cloud?  Probably not.  Any application or plug in that needs to be physically attached to the server will more than likely not be supported.  Office 360 is multitenant; meaning you are sharing a server with multiple organizations.  If you have specific security requirements or customization needs you might want to stick to an on premise solution or take advantage of a third party hosted solution.

What features of Microsoft 365 have you most excited? Let us know in the comments section!

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About Brett LaForge

Program Manager -Microsoft Hosted Solutions: Saint Louis, MO