If users of the Microsoft Office suite haven't yet seen Windows Live SkyDrive, they really should take a look at it. Although launched in late 2007, Windows Live did not have support for the Microsoft Office Web Apps until the third quarter of 2010.
These office web apps can be used in all supported browsers, including Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, as well as Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Users do not need local versions of these Office applications in order to use the Microsoft Office Web Apps, plus there are many other great benefits such as calendaring. There is even the option to share data or publish information directly from Windows Live SkyDrive.
Finally from a storage perspective, users have been enjoying a massive 25GB of free storage (although this has recently been reduced to 7GB) with a maximum file size of 100MB (Since June 2011). As a result some business users have wondered what the big issue is about using Office 365 compared to Windows Live.
Office 365 In and Out of the Cloud
Windows Live SkyDrive is aimed at general public while Office 365's audience is the business community. Whether a business has fewer than five users, is a medium sized SME or a large enterprise there are several important benefits over online systems such as Windows Live. Here are a few:-
- Standardisation: Standardisation, look and ethos of a business is important to help employees understand how the business should be conveyed. When a user accesses their company's Office 365 environment they can be given a specific look and feel, which can evolve as the company itself evolves.
- 24 x 7 Usage: Although the guarantee states 99.9 per cent access (i.e. the Microsoft Data Centres not having an outage), in general, users can have 24 x7 access to their Office applications depending on either their existing desktop and software estate (i.e. they already have Microsoft Office 2007/Microsoft 2010) or if the business opts for Microsoft's E3 plan (which includes a desktop version of Microsoft Office). Due to the desktop component, should there be an Internet outage either at the data centre end or at the business end, employees are still able to work using the local apps and then upload their data when online access is resumed. Unfortunately with Windows Live and other on-line systems, when the data centre or Internet connection goes down, employees simply don't have access.
- Compliance and Security: Unfortunately in today's business environment and with the existing economic conditions, there have been many issues with data loss and data leakage. As a result, legislation has changed to ensure that businesses adequately protect their data. Office 365 allows a business to imitate their internal security stance for confidential documents and email across all Office 365 users. The security is multi-tiered and can be controlled by both administrators and employees (via permissions) who are sharing their documents with other employees within the company.
Office 365 has many other features and business benefits, that you might be interested in reading about on the links below.