Between upgrades and updates, making sure your software is the latest and greatest can be an expensive time-suck—for the software maker as well as you. Which is why we’re slowly but surely moving to the cloud. The latest indication of that shift came today when Microsoft announced it is bundling a suite of applications hosted on the Internet into a single service: Microsoft 365.
The applications—which are all targeted at businesses—include Office, Lync Online, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online. The company says it also plans to eventually fold in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
Everyone wins, the software giant said in its press release. "With Office 365, your local bakery can get enterprise-caliber software and services for the first time, while a multinational pharmaceutical company can reduce costs and more easily stay current with the latest innovations," said Kurt DelBene, president of the Office Division at Microsoft. "People can focus on their business, while we and our partners take care of the technology."
Microsoft also wins—or at least gets to stay in the game. Over the past few years, Google encroached on territory that traditionally belonged to Office, spreading its online applications, like Google Docs, to an increasingly larger number of businesses, government offices, and educational institutions.
Still, not everything is going well for Microsoft's push into the cloud. Yesterday it announced that its chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, who led Microsoft’s foray into cloud computing, will be leaving the company. In an internal message yesterday, CEO Steve Ballmer noted Ozzie’s significance: "This past March marked a significant milestone for the company when, in a speech at the University of Washington, I sent a message to the world that we’re ‘all in’ when it comes to the cloud. In that speech I noted that Ray’s Internet Services Disruption memo nearly five years ago, and his work since, stimulated thinking across the company and helped catalyze our drive to the cloud."
Office 365 will initially only be available to a few thousand customers, as part of a beta taking place in 13 countries and regions. The product will officially go on the market sometime in 2011.