Microsoft 365 is a collection of Microsoft products available online. Instead of buying the physical products, small businesses and enterprises pay a monthly subscription for access to products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, SharePoint and Lync, accessible via their web browser.
Comparisons are regularly made with Google Apps, but existing Microsoft users will appreciate getting added convenience from a familiar product:
Quick setup: A user can be set up within minutes without having to go through a lengthy installation process. Time and costs savings can be made in IT by eliminating the need to maintain and upgrade software on individual user workstations as it is accessed via a web browser.
Accessibility: Documents and other data can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at any location or on mobile devices.
Ease of use: Most people are already familiar with the Microsoft productivity tools. There will be no need to train employees on a new system, no compatibility problems and set-up is fast and easy.
Collaboration: Users can easily collaborate on documents online with changes made visible immediately, speeding up the editing process. Documents can also be shared securely without having to email them to recipients.
The main concern is that as an online service Microsoft 365 requires a stable internet connection for access. There have been important outages experienced with Microsoft’s current cloud-based services, which is casting a shadow over the reliability of Microsoft 365. However, this problem is also experienced by other cloud-based service providers and is not unique to Microsoft.
The monthly subscription fee is also a consideration as a recurring cost that will have to be paid per employee, however this has to be weighed against current licence fees and reduced IT costs.
With a pricing structure that is close to other cloud-based services, Microsoft 365 is likely to attract many small businesses and enterprises already using their desktop products.
It is a combination of the most important elements of the Office suite of productivity tools with existing services like Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange Server and Office Live Small Business. Bought together under one umbrella product, it provides a single access point to the most sought after Microsoft products – online.