(Stephen Parker, Head of Cloud Strategy)
So the announcement is out and BPOS (as well as Live@Edu) will become Office 365. This branding is officially only applicable to the next wave of Microsoft’s direct to market hosted productivity tools, due in 2011 (official line is H1, interweb gossip suggests nearer the end of Q1). However I am sure Microsoft will be happy if we all start using the Office 365 moniker sooner (it will be interesting to see if the UK based online stationary and office supplies company www.Office365.co.uk will take the same view!!). I had received the heads up on the detailed offerings behind this at a recent meeting with the MS Online business owners in Seattle, but as usual NDAs were in place.
Why Office 365? I am sure there will be much formal pronouncement on the rationale for the name. However my rather cynical take is that the “Office” tag is Microsoft’s comfort blanket. If they are unsure and want to go to a safe place then out pops the “office” label. We have seen this before with Office Live Workspaces and Office Live for Small Business as well as Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS).
The good news of course is that the single brand will remove much of the confusion around the functionally similar (and increasingly common technology) platforms of BPOS and Live@Edu. From a platform perspective the main news is:
- All products will be based on the 2010 offerings (Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online and Lync Online)
- Office Web Apps and a Client side version of Office 2010 will be part of certain bundles.
- There will be a federated single sign on process across all the products (this has been one of the big engineering efforts that has delayed an earlier launch)
- Live Meeting will be dropped with most of the capability being taken up by Lync (If you are an existing BPOS user with Live Meeting then there is a possibility that there will be extended usage options so keep listening)
From a commercial perspective there are lots more options available covering everything from the small business, through “kiosk” (previously deskless), variations on the current BPOS-Standard where Office starts to be added and onto the Dedicated and Federal options. I will post a more detailed update on this.
So happy hunting as BPOS partners become Office 365 partners.