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Microsoft Office 365 Is Also for the Enterprise

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Posted June 28, 2011 By Stuart J. Johnston     Feedback

Microsoft CEO Ballmer talked up SMBs at the Office 365 launch, but he knows which side his bread is buttered on.

Microsoft announced general availability of its next-generation online suite at an event in New York on Tuesday.

Although Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer spent most of his time onstage emphasizing Office 365's benefits for the small to medium-sized business (SMB) markets, the company clearly has no intention of letting its investment in online services for the enterprise languish.

"Office 365 is available in a wide range of service plans designed to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, ranging from the largest to the smallest," the company said in a statement.

After all, just a year ago, the company bragged that it already had 40 million paying customers, many of them enterprises, signed up to use its various online services.

In fact, Office 365 is the replacement for Microsoft's popular Business Productivity Online Suite, or BPOS, which to this point has largely been targeted at enterprise users and large governmental organizations.

Office 365 aims to give customers cloud-hosted online versions of Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, and Lync 2010, as well as Web-based Microsoft Office Web Apps and the option of licensing Office 2010 Professional on a subscription basis.

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"We've developed a wide range of service plans [and] our service level agreements are the best in the industry," Ballmer told his launch event audience. He cited a list of enterprises that have been testing Office 365 since it's been in beta test in April, including McDonalds, Philips, Starbucks, Volvo, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Hyatt Hotels, Coca Cola Enterprises, GlaxoSmithKline and Kraft Foods, claiming that more than 200,000 organizations signed up to test Office 365.

A Microsoft statement said service plans range from $2 to $27 per user per month.

"Each of these plans come with the advanced IT controls, security, 24x7 IT support and reliability customers expect from Microsoft," the statement added.

Ballmer also cited a list of partners who will provide Office 365 hosting, including Bell Canada, Intuit, France Telecom-Orange, NTT Communications, Telefonica, Telmex, Telstra, and Vodafone.

Office 365 is currently available in 40 different markets worldwide.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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