There are many reasons why a user or business might want one or more services that make up todays current Microsoft Office 365 offerings. There are actually compelling reasons to use it for particular situations from a technical or monetary perspective. But lets step back for a moment.
What are you trying to achieve?
By considering Office 365 you are already open minded about utilizing an Internet hosted mail solution (and lets face it you have probably been using one for years personally) and perhaps you also want to store other documents in the “cloud”. Additionally you might like things such as collaboration, chat, email archiving, document editing and more. If you are all in, you maybe considering renting your main productivity suite. Yep, I mean Microsoft Office.
The Players: Google vs. Microsoft
With your cloudy /hosted desires sorted, there are really only two games in town. The integrated offerings from Google based around Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs etc or Office 365 based around Microsoft Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Microsoft Office.
As you may have guessed we are a site all about Office 365. That’s what we are going to continue to discuss. However it is worth noting that the reason we are big fans of Office 365 and to a lesser extent the Google suite is that we are coming from a business perspective where paying for software is acceptable and in fact often times preferable and also we are still interested in the Microsoft ecosystem centered around the Office products and compatibility with those. There are many other good reasons to choose Office 365 but one major reason is that it is Microsoft Office centric.
Office 365 is great!
The two most common components of Office 365 to get implemented first will be Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. These replace their on-premise brethren Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010. For both these offerings Office 365 is superb. They simply work, they are easy to use and configure (migration can make things trickier) and in terms of Exchange pretty flexible if you want to start getting down and dirty under the hood.
One of the best things about the SharePoint implementation is that it includes Office Web Apps. These are web browser based cut down versions of your favorite Microsoft Office suite applications that you would find on your PC. It allows you to edit and update documents from anywhere with a web browser. Even a smartphone.
There are a lot more reasons why we are big fans, but one of the best features is the inclusion of the full Office package in E3 and E4 subscriptions. Fro $20 per month you get to install the full Office Pro Plus 2010 (soon to be updated to 2013 versions) on up to 5 devices including Mac OS! That’s 5 copies! For a business that begrudgingly shells out $400 each time it needs a new copy of Office Professional and then never upgrades because of the cost this is a fabulous option.
Couple all of this with things such as Active Directory integration, supposedly native iOS support coming soon, unlimited mail archiving, the only HIPPA compliant storage and very attentive support and you have a winner on your hands.