Microsoft Office 365 provides an Office Web Apps, Microsoft Exchange Mail platform, SharePoint Online collaboration and Lync communication services. All combine to give the business users information management and sharing platform, document and record management platform, business workflow automation, business process management, enterprise social networking and custom development platform for business requirements.
Microsoft summarizes the extensive range of capabilities provided by SharePoint 2013 Online into the following classifications:
- Build: Enterprise Collaboration solutions can be easily created that host the information and applications that business users needed.
- Manage: Admin portals provide complete tools allowing for manage and control of the data, applications and related information.
- Organize: Features are provided that allow you to organize all of your content, such as documents, files, list items and tasks, as well as team communication and reports.
- Discover: Complete search tools are available to help you find information that you need using content search and also to locate people in the organization by using the people search.
- Share: SharePoint provides enterprise collaboration and social capabilities designed to support team work and the sharing of ideas and knowledge with others.
Evolution of Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft introduced a cloud offering focused on business customers with the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) in 2009, which consisted of Exchange 2007, SharePoint 2007, Office Communicator 2007 and Live Meeting 2007. In 2011, Microsoft released the next iteration of its cloud offering for customers: Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 has upgraded these products to Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, Office Web Apps, and Lync 2010. Microsoft also announced plans to add Windows Intune and CRM Online.
Office 365 – Building Blocks
Microsoft has launched the Office 365 – Office 2013 Preview in 2012 with the applications you trusted the most: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, Lync, SharePoint, Exchange, Office Web Apps Server, Project and Visio. This is a compelling set of cloud-based applications, compared with industry competitors such as Google.
Please note that Microsoft only offers the dedicated offering to customers with more than 20,000 users. Perhaps the greatest threat to adoption of Office 365 is not competitors, but rather reluctance of organizations to move data and applications from on premise servers and clients to Microsoft’s cloud.
When considering an activation of SharePoint Online as part of your SharePoint strategy, the main architectural decisions which need to be made should focus on some of the key areas like capabilities, Workloads and Information Architecture.
The Microsoft Office 2013 gets the Metro treatment, with a touch-friendly interface as well as new features, and goes to the cloud, with subscription pricing, on-demand installation and automatic syncing of settings and documents you save in the cloud – if you want to pay for it that way. So we've taken an in-depth look at what you get and how well the Windows 8-influenced interface works in practice.
Although the preview suite is called Office 15, individual applications such as Word and Excel get the 2013 tag, so we expect the final release will be called Office 2013.
As usual, the technical preview includes more applications and features than you'll get in all the versions of Office 2013: Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath and Lync – plus the Metro versions of OneNote and Lync.
There is Office 2013 versions of the Exchange, SharePoint, Project and Lync servers as well, which businesses can run in-house or use the cloud versions of (through the Microsoft-run Office 365 service or from the usual mix of hosting companies).
You will still be able to buy Office 2013 as traditional software that you pay for in advance, but you can also buy Office as a subscription, through Office 365. That gets you the full desktop and Metro applications, not just the Office web apps (which also get an update), plus Office for Mac and for any other devices that Office applications are available for (such as OneNote for iPhone, iPad and Android devices).
There are four different plans available (they're all labeled Preview at the moment but we expect the names to be final, and we expect these to correspond to the boxed versions of Office 2013). There's no sign of Office Starter, which we expect to be replaced by the free Office web apps.
And as you might expect, Office 2013 only runs on Windows 7 and Windows 8, not on XP or Vista.
Office 365 Home Premium is the consumer version: you get Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher, you can install them on up to five PCs at once and you get 20GB extra storage on SkyDrive for saving documents to the cloud.
Office 365 Small Business Premium gives you the same applications but with Office 365 accounts instead of SkyDrive, so you get Exchange email, SharePoint document management and Lync video conferencing.
Office 365 ProPlus adds InfoPath and Lync; Office 365 Enterprise has the same applications as ProPlus but the Office 365 accounts you get are the enterprise plan, which has the full version of Exchange, including email archiving.
With all of these, you don't have to worry about downloading and saving a large installer for Office. Whether you start the download from the Office 365 site or you try to open an Office document on a PC that doesn't have Office on, the apps stream from the cloud.
It uses a much improved version of the Click-to-Run virtualization that Microsoft uses for the Office 2013 trial versions, which enables you to start using the applications just a few minutes after you download them.
There's a PowerPoint slideshow of new features that opens in PowerPoint while the other applications stream down and you pick options such as the design you want to see in the ribbon.
You don't even have to uninstall your current version of Office, and Office 2013 picked up all our settings - from email accounts to custom AutoCorrect entries, Office add-ins and the buttons we'd added to the Quick Access Toolbars. This is your personal version of Office, just a lot quicker.