Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Microsoft launches cloud-based Office service today

Microsoft today launched a cloud-based version of its Microsoft Office produce. Aimed at professionals and small businesses, the service is subscription based and lets users access email, documents, contacts and calendars via the web.
Called Microsoft Office 365, the service will cost small business $6 per month to subscribe, for each user, and requires that PC owners have Office 2007 SP2 or Office 2010 installed on their computers, or Office 2008 or Office 2011 for Mac installed. Enterprise users are charged from $10 per month, or $27 per month per user depending on the number of features needed.

The service will work on most common browsers.

The software giant's cloud effort is both an attempt to hold off other cloud computing products from Google and Apple, and also somewhat of a recognition that the company's Office suite is a now a legacy product that offers few reasons for consumers and companies to continuously upgrade every couple of years.

Comparing the new Microsoft product to Google one instantly recognizes that the new product is coming from the same company that continues to confuse consumers with multiple versions of its software products. While Google Apps will cost you $5 per month, Microsoft's product is tiered; Microsoft's product is less optimized for mobile devices that Google's (based on this early look by PC World). But there are a lot of people very comfortable with Office, and miss it when it is not available on their mobile devices – for them, this might be a good solution.