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Office 365, looking back and forward

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The cloud and cloud based solutions are the most popular tech topics of 2012, with almost every new program and new versions of existing programs having some form of cloud integration. Microsoft is no exception, and their cloud based Office suite Office 365, released in 2011, has been gaining popularity.

With just over a year in the wild, it’s time for a quick check up and look to the future.

Microsoft Office is arguably the most widely installed program in the world. School children use it to do their homework, University students use it to draft term reports and companies use it for just about everything. To make Office a little more “modern”, Microsoft has launched Office 365, a cloud based version of Office specifically for small to medium businesses. It’s been slightly over a year since the release, so how has it held up? And what does the future look like for the program?

Office was developed as a replacement and solidification of a number of different business oriented Office programs into one platform that utilizes the cloud to deliver services. While Microsoft has touted it as the next step forward, some experts are underwhelmed by the offering and have noted that Microsoft can do better.

While no official metrics on exactly how many companies are integrating the software have been released, it has noted that more than 90 percent of Office 365 users are small businesses with less than 50 employees.

Office 365 is popular with this segment due to the fact that it offers productivity and collaboration software, along with a solid email platform that meets both needs and budgets. The other draw to this suite is the generally high level of support and management offered by vendors, which means overall IT costs are considerably lower compared with the company hosting similar services themselves.

Office 365 has proven to be a viable solution for small businesses. However, companies with more than 50 employees have generally been slower to adopt Office 365 due to concerns over how well the migration to a cloud based suite can be executed. Users of Microsoft’s now defunct Office Live Small Business would say that the migration could have gone smoother, especially if they chose to migrate without the help of vendors.

Despite a slightly complicated migration process, a number of universities and high-profile companies and government bodies have decided to integrate Office 365 and reports have been more than positive towards the platform.

Office 365 going forward For companies that have been reluctant to integrate a cloud based office solution, Microsoft has made the choice for you: integrate, or be left behind. This decision comes with the impending release of Office 2013, a new version of Office with heavy cloud integration, regardless of version. The business based versions will all use Office 365 as a platform to deliver and manage the suite, with the option to stream specific Office programs as you use them.

If your company is looking forward to integrating Office 2013, you will doubtless be integrating Office 365, or a modified version of it. From early reports, the platform and delivery works quite well and users will find little to no change to the overall feel of the program. We are confident that Office 365 systems, coupled with new versions of Office will be the tipping point for integration into companies.

If you’re looking for a cloud office solution, we recommend contacting us, we can work with you to find a solution that works for you and your office.