Microsoft Office 365 Beta Website Now Live

Those looking to test Office 365 prior to the official roll out of Microsoft's cloud-based productivity suite can now register their interest online through a dedicated Microsoft microsite at Office365.com.

The domain name had actually been registered since June 2005, showing that the company might have had cloud computing plans for its flagship Office franchise for the past five years but waited for the right time to get it live. (ed : You can find more about Microsoft's Office 365 here.)

A limited number of beta users will be allowed either on Office 365 Beta for small businesses or for enterprises; the main difference between the two being the level of controls.

The beta will allow users to explore new features of Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online, Lync Online and Office Professional Plus desktop suite. Microsoft told Softpedia that only 2000 organisations will be included in the first batch of beta testers with more added later.

Office 365 will be available for purchase in early 2011 with 13 countries eligible to participate in the initial beta release which will end 30 days after the Office 365 general availability. Interestingly, Office 365 is fully compatible with IE7 or above, Firefox 3.x and Safari 4.x but not Chrome or Opera.