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Microsoft Office 365 cloud service updated for business use

27 Feb 2013
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Microsoft has launched new versions of its cloud-based software as a service (Saas) Office 365 suite for businesses, bringing an updated licensing model, greater focus on worker mobility via the cloud, and expanded integration with its enterprise social networking tool Yammer.

Unveiled today, the new Office 365 for businesses adds two further offerings, Office 365 Midsize Business and Office 365 Small Business Premium, to address some of the needs customers have been asking for, Microsoft said. The existing Office 365 Enterprise release has also been updated.

"There are three main areas we've invested in with the new Office. Firstly, we've looked at how Office is used across PC, tablet and phone, and making sure users have the right experience for how they want to be productive on those devices. The second area is around cloud, and the third is social, building on our acquisition of Yammer," Lara Kingwell, Microsoft UK Office launch lead manager, told V3.

Like the consumer-focused Office 365 Home Premium that shipped last month, the business versions are licensed on a per-user subscription basis, allowing each user access from up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs or Macs.

Users also get the rights to stream the desktop Office apps onto any internet-connected PC they might be sitting at via Microsoft's Click-to-Run feature, a move designed to make it easy for users to get the tools they need to do their job wherever they might be.

Served up this way, the desktop Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and OneNote are known as Office 365 ProPlus, and use Microsoft's app virtualisation (App-V) technology for deployment rather than a conventional installation.

Office 365 ProPlus is available as a standalone offering for £10.10 per user per month.

Meanwhile, Office 365 Small Business Premium targets small firms with one to 10 users and has a simple setup process that requires no IT skills, according to Microsoft.

It provides email, communication and collaboration capabilities via cloud-hosted versions of Exchange, Lync and SharePoint and is priced at £10.10 per user per month.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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