The interesting thing about the announcement of Office 365 for everyone, aka the chance to licence up to 5 PCs or Macs for $99/year (U.S. prices – those of us in the rest of the world can expect to see higher prices due to currency conversions and higher tax rates) was the lack of coverage for for small businesses or enterprise.
But then Steve Ballmer blogged that:
“In fact, since we launched Office 365 for businesses only 18 months ago, 1 in 5 of our enterprise customers now has the service, up from 1 in 7 a year ago. Smaller businesses are also choosing Office 365 at a rapid pace, with a 150 percent increase in the number of small and medium-sized businesses using the service over the past 12 months. These businesses will get to enjoy the new Office 365 service for businesses beginning Feb. 27.”
So perhaps we can read into this that Office 365 will be upgraded to use the Wave 15 product versions (Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, Lync 2013) from February 27? And that maybe Microsoft might release the much-awaited Exchange 2010 SP3 at the same time to allow hybrid customers the opportunity to interact with an upgraded Office 365?
We shall have to wait and see. In the interim, two interesting points arise from Ballmer’s quote. First, that 20% of enterprise customers now “has the service.” He doesn’t say “use” the service, so my interpretation is that 20% of Microsoft’s enterprise customers have registered an Office 365 tenant domain. This isn’t at all surprising because a) it’s in the interest of any large customer to kick the tires of Microsoft’s cloud service so that they can compare and contrast it to their current operations and b) the service delivered by Office 365 over the last 18 months has been much better than anyone really anticipated. After a couple of initial glitches, “the service” has hummed along just fine and has delivered an SLA that most internal IT departments might struggle to achieve.
The second noteworthy data point is the assertion of a 150% increase in the number of small to medium businesses who have started to use Office 365 over the last year. Again, no real surprise. I actually thought that the figure might be higher because Microsoft is of course coming from a low base. Office 365 is a pretty attractive offering to small businesses who don’t have the in-house expertise to take on an upgrade to the newest versions of the on-premises product and it does remove a great deal of mundane operations from the daily to-do list, like applying patches and the like.
I don’t know how many personal customers will pay $99/year for Office 365 Home Premium. It’s much cheaper than buying individual copies, but only if you really need more than two copies, which happens to be the situation I’m in with a houseful of PCs and Macs. On the other hand, if you only have the one PC, it might just be better to shell out and buy the regular Office Home and Student… unless of course you need Outlook, in which case that $99/year price looks a lot better. Decisions, decisions!
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