Office 365 (www.office365.com) is a relatively new offering from Microsoft that replaces their older Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). It consists of multiple products and services that can be licensed separately or all together. They include Exchange, SharePoint, Office Professional Plus, Office Online, Archiving and Lync.
It is everything a business would need to operate from a general productivity perspective.
Behind the scenes it is Microsoft’s way of participating in the always on, hosted, software as service that was pioneered by companies such as Salesforce.
Exchange Online is the bread and butter of Office 365 – it provides an Exchange 2010 back end (albeit in a multi tenet environment) complete with Outlook Web Access and support for Microsoft Outlook, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and any other email client or device that supports modern day ActiveSync and HTTPS based access. It provides enterprise grade email, calendar, and contacts across all devices and clients. For administrators, basic management can be performed through an easy to use web portal, with more advanced options being managed through a separate web portal and PowerShell tools (much like the power shell tool for managing BPOS).
Office Professional Plus 2010
Office Professional Plus is the full desktop version of Microsoft Office that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, and InfoPath. This feature basically allows you to license (rent) Microsoft Office monthly, rather than buy it for full price. Depending on your needs, this could be very useful. Someone who wants a personal copy of Office to use for years is may be better served by buying it. A company with a rapidly changing user base who needs to quickly activate and deactivate new copies of Microsoft Office on a regular basis could find this to be the more financially advantageous option. It means they will always be up to date without any added expenses and most importantly each user can activate up to 5 copies. It means your users can run full Office at home and always be able to work.
Lync is Microsoft’s replacement for Office Communicator. It is a standalone messaging client for PC which allows for messaging, audio, video chat, and meetings, as well as collaboration tools and integration with Microsoft Office. It can also be used as a phone service if configured with Lync-to-Phone.
Office Online is Microsoft’s browser based version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It is integrated with SharePoint, and allows the editing of Microsoft formatted documents that are stored in SharePoint.
SharePoint has been used as an internal collaboration and intranet server since 2000. Over the years it has gained in popularity, deployment and functionality. The version included with Office 365 is a multi tenant deployment that allows a business to enjoy much of the functionality. It can also be used to publish external websites. You may wonder where it might be used against a standard file share and the key part is the document control functions. For instance a user can check a document out, work on it and then check it back in. During the check out phase no one else can work on it. Another user may subscribe to the document and will get notified whenever it is updated. This is the tip of the iceberg and will be discussed on other posts.
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