Friday, February 1, 2013

New office 365 information

This week saw the release of Office 365 Home Premium. The initial information was revealed in a post from Steve Ballmer on the Official Microsoft Blog:

Office 365: The Next Bold Step

It is interesting that, as Paul Thurrott points out, Office 365 Home Premium doesn’t take advantage of any the enterprise grade applications like Exchange, SharePoint and Lync that traditional Office 365 does. That perhaps makes it a little confusing but I think that if you look at the bigger picture Microsoft is trying to align these offerings all under a single brand. There is nothing to stop office 365 Home Premium from migrating to full Office 365 enterprise services in the future. I therefore see this more as an opportunity for Microsoft to start aligning products and offerings for the full range of consumers under a single brand, in this case Office 365. This is very similar to Apple and it’s branding of the ‘Ipad’ without referring to version numbers. It isn’t an Ipad 4 it is just an Ipad.

Also contained in the blog post was the following information about the business versions of Office 365:

“These businesses will get to enjoy the new Office 365 service for businesses beginning Feb. 27.”

This means the new Office 365 plans around Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office 2013 will be available by month end, which is great news.

This news has however raised more questions that it answered. The first of these is around the change of plan offerings. There will now be a new Small Business and Professionals P2 plan that offers Microsoft Office 2013 on the desktop. There will also be a new M plan for ‘medium’ business. The existing P and E plans remain.

Probably the best information available on this at the moment is from Mary Joe Foley:



Microsoft Office 365: More new packages and prices coming in November

An interesting point with the above plans is that the P plans (Small Business) appear be limited to a maximum of 10 users. This raises an interesting migration question for existing P plans which have an maximum absolute limit currently of 50 users.

Probably the biggest questions not yet revealed are around migration for existing Office 365 users. It would seem that these people have to wait at least 60 days after the release of the new version. It would also appear that they will be contacted by Microsoft to schedule an upgrade of their service and indication are that US customers will be upgraded first, followed by Europe with Asia Pacific last. All migrations are scheduled to be completed by November 2013.

If you want more information about the upgrades from an existing Office 365 service you should check the following:

Office 365 Service Upgrade Center for Enterprise

Office 365 Service Upgrade Center for Small Business

So what can we expect here in Australia? According to the the Official Microsoft Partner blog (my emphasis added):

  • In Australia our Enterprise customers will be able to buy Office 365 on their Enterprise Agreements on the 28th February. 
 
  • For our small and medium business customers we are working with Telstra to have the service available on the same day

  • For existing Office 365 customers, we expect the upgrade to be available in the coming months.
 
The announcement also talks about the availability of Office 365 via Distribution on an Open License type.  In Australia Office 365 will not be available as an Open License type, we will continue to sell Office 365 exclusively via our Partner, Telstra for small and medium business and Enterprise customers can purchase directly from Microsoft under and Enterprise Agreement.  The two new product SKUs (M and P2 SKUs) will be available in Australia as a subscription from Telstra.  They are targeted to the small and medium business customer, therefore will not be available to enterprise customers under Enterprise Agreements.

So at the moment we need to wait till February 27th to see exactly what is revealed. We’ll probably have to wait a bit longer before all the answers to questions like migration are answered in more detail. For the time being the best bet is to stay tuned here and I’ll bring you the information as I find out.