Office 365 stands as an alternative to BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) and caters to customised needs of small business and enterprises. With Office 365, Microsoft is offering office suite for desktop based applications with hosting capabilities through the Online Microsoft Applications. Online Microsoft Applications include Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server. The different components are discussed below:
Microsoft Exchange Online
Microsoft has included its famous Exchange server capabilities in Office 365 and with its help users can access services like emails, calendar, contacts, meetings, tasks, etc. All these can be accessed through the Outlook Web App client with look and feel similar to that of the desktop version of Outlook. Previously, OWA (Outlook Web Access) was the means for web based access to Exchange functionalities which was rudimentary and primitive to quite an extent. With the launch of Office 365, everyone would now have access to a feature rich client. The only drawback as it seems is the inability of the User Interface (UI) to retain the custom column widths. But apart from that, the overall interface (opens in new tab) is quite nice and intuitive.
Microsoft SharePoint Online
SharePoint allows for sharing and management of documents using internal or external sites built using the ASP.NET framework. With the online version of SharePoint, Microsoft has done quite well in regards to the user interface which cannot be differentiated from the desktop based version. The installation and execution of the SharePoint functionality is quite easy with seamless connectivity from Windows Phone and capability of syncing contents of document libraries onto the mobile device.
The overall structure of SharePoint Online is divided into two different parts. The Team Site which stays internal to the teams or groups those are within the organisation and the Website which is for public access and online presence on the web. Access rights can be assigned in SharePoint Online (opens in new tab) to the users depending upon their role and functions within the organisation.
Microsoft Lync Online
Microsoft Lync Online is a communication server for small to medium businesses and enterprises that provides instant messaging capabilities, file transfer, voice and video conferencing, support for ad hoc voice and video applications, etc. Microsoft claims that through Lync Online, business users would have a noise and attenuation free voice calls along with support for 64 bit platforms and PSTN connectivity. Users would need to download and install the Lync client on their desktop systems to avail this functionality. The Lync Server also has support for SIP Trunking.
Office 2010 Professional Plus
Office 365 comes with a set of free commercial tools (opens in new tab) that would allow users to carry out their day to day word processing and spreadsheet based num along with presentations without any extra cost involved. The suite comes with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. All these come along with support for integration of Visual Basic Scripting and applications and OLE data integration.
Office 365 Admin Panel
The Admin Panel is not one of the services that Microsoft provides, but it is an important component of the Office 365 administration. The Admin panel (opens in new tab) allows for creation of users and domains. The administrator can manage and subscribe to new licenses as required. The admin panel also allows administrators to schedule maintenance and keep a check on the health of the Office 365 service.