Does Office 365 Beta Mean the End of Office Live Small Business?

Microsoft Office 365 Beta

Microsoft, who just moved 30 million bloggers from OLSB to WordPress appears to plan a complete shutdown of its current Office Live Small Business (OLSB) (see our review here) product.

Today Microsoft announced the public beta of its new Office 365 product.

In the announcement, Microsoft is not even too subtle about the future of OLSB, saying: “Office 365 will replace OLSB as Microsoft’s comprehensive productivity service for small business.”

Which explains why OLSB was getting so little love from Microsoft lately.

So what does the new Office 365 offer for current OLSB customers? (Btw, am I the only one who does not like to think of “office” and “365″ in one sentence, let alone one name?)

From the Microsoft announcement:

Email, Calendar, and Contacts
Powered by Microsoft Exchange Online

Office 365 provides you access to email, calendar, and contacts from virtually anywhere, at any time, on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices—while helping to protect against malicious software (also known as malware) and spam.

  • Easily manage your email with 25-gigabyte (GB) mailboxes and send emails up to 25 megabytes (MB) in size. This represents a significant improvement over the 5GB mailboxes that OLSB customers use today.
  • Work from almost anywhere with automatically updated email, calendar, and contacts across devices you use most, including PCs, Macintosh computers, iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry smartphones*, Windows Mobile and Windows Phones.**
  • Connect with Microsoft Outlook 2010 or Office Outlook 2007 and use all of the rich Outlook functionality you already know and use, whether you are connected to the Internet at home or in the office or you are working offline.
  • Access your email, calendar, and contacts from nearly any web browser while keeping a rich, familiar Outlook experience with Outlook Web App.
  • Easily schedule meetings by sharing calendars and viewing them side by side, seeing your colleagues’ availability and suggested meeting times from your calendar.
  • Help protect your organization from spam and viruses with Microsoft Forefront® Online Protection for Exchange, which includes multiple filters and virus-scanning engines.

*Users of Blackberry Internet Service get push email and can add calendar and contacts to their Blackberry device through a wired sync with Outlook on the PC.**Access from mobile devices depends on carrier network availability

Team Sites and Public Websites
Powered by Microsoft SharePoint® Online

Office 365 enables you to access and share documents, contacts, calendars, and tasks in a single location and from a shared computer or smartphone.

  • Easily design and maintain a professional-looking public website. Office 365 includes nearly identical public website design tools to OLSB, so you don’t have to worry about learning a new program to maintain your site.
  • Improve collaboration with a password-protected portal, or team site, to share large files both inside and outside your organization.
  • Open and save files stored on your team site directly from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Access team site files from your mobile device.
  • Share and edit your Microsoft Access databases online with Access Services.

Office Web Apps
Hosted on Microsoft SharePoint OnlineOffice Web Apps are convenient online companions to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Microsoft OneNote® that offer you an easy way to access, view, and edit documents directly from your web browser.

  • Simultaneously edit Excel spreadsheets and OneNote notebooks with others in real-time and see exactly who is editing and viewing your documents.
  • Access and view files from your mobile device.
  • View documents in high fidelity.
  • Ensure that viewers see files with consistent formatting when moving between Office Web Apps and desktop Office applications.

Instant Messaging and Online Meetings
Powered by Microsoft Lync Online™Microsoft Lync Online helps you find and quickly connect with the right person from within the Office applications you already use.

  • Find and connect with colleagues and customers from virtually anywhere via rich presence, instant messaging (IM), audio/video calls, and online meetings.
  • Use the Presence indicator to see when coworkers and partners are online and available.
  • Make PC-to-PC voice and video calls with colleagues.
  • Conduct rich online meetings—including audio, video, and web conferencing—with people both inside and outside of your organization.
  • Share your desktop, online whiteboards, and presentations with colleagues and partners inside and outside of your organization.
  • Use Click-to-Communicate functionality with other users of Office 365, Microsoft Windows Live™, and MSN® Messenger.

The current beta is by application only. To receive access, send an email to [email protected] with the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your email address
  • The name of your organization
  • Your country
  • Are you a current Office Live Small Business customer?

With the new product, it looks like Microsoft wants to compete head on with Google Apps for Business. Will it be able to? If you use either product, what is your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.

Via: Announcing Microsoft Office 365 and the future of Office Live Small Business (OLSB) – Microsoft OLSB blog
Photo: Perpetual Calendar by Oskay / Flikr

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