When I reviewed Microsoft's Office 365 last week, I tested the cloud-based productivity suite on Windows PCs, running either Windows 7 or Windows XP.
To recap, Office 365 provides access to cloud-hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint, plus Microsoft's Lync telephony client and web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
However, with most of the capabilities of Office 365 provided through a browser, it should be possible for users on other platforms, such as Mac or Linux, to gain access to Office features.
To find out, I tried accessing my test account on an Apple iMac and a PC running Ubuntu with a version of Firefox.
The results were encouraging, everything looking and functioning exactly as it does when you access it from a PC. It would seem that Microsoft has done a pretty good job of ensuring cross-platform support via the browser, with this suite at least.
On both the Mac and Ubuntu I was able to access Outlook and send and receive email, check the calendar, and even edit shared documents stored on SharePoint using the Office Web Apps such as Word.
The one area where this falls down is with Lync, Microsoft's messaging and telephony tool. Unlike the other functions, this is a full-blown software client that must be installed locally, and non-Windows users are out of luck here.
While there is a version of Microsoft's Communicator (the old name for Lync) for Mac OS, Microsoft states on its Office 365 web site: "At this time Communicator for Mac 2011 will not work with Office 365."
06 Jul 2011
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