Microsoft Decides To Take On Google Apps

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Tim Higgins

Microsoft today announced a new cloud offering that includes its Office, Exchange and SharePoint products.

Microsoft Office 365 is a revamp of Redmond’s Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, with a new mix of products. The new service is designed to run on any web browser that supports Microsoft’s Active Sync.

For individuals and small businesses up to 24 employees, a bundle of Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and an external website will cost $6 per user, per month.

Office 365 for enterprises will run from $2 / user / month for basic email up through an all-inclusive $24 / user / month Office Professional Plus package that includes email, voicemail, enterprise social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, voiceconferencing and videoconferencing, webconferencing, 24×7 phone support, on-premises licenses, "and more".

This new service is aimed squarely at stealing customers from Google’s App cloud offering, although the top-end enterprise package is nowhere in Google Apps’ $50 / user / year price range.

Office 365 is now in beta "with a few thousand organizations in 13 countries and regions around the world". Microsoft said the beta will be expanded "over time", with general availability in "40 countries and regions" in 2011.

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