Office 365 review
Microsoft positions Office 365 for through an impressive array of collaboration tools. The firm's Newsfeed integrates with contacts and is similar to a Facebook timeline that presents messages, Twitter- like hashtags and changes on files from other Office 365 users in the organisation.
Setting up the corporate domain name with Microsoft's DNS servers also allows firms to publish websites authored through Office 365.
Microsoft also touts Lync and Yammer support through Office 365 and there's no doubt that integration with these services is getting tighter in both Office 2013 and Office 365.
Redmond spent billions purchasing Skype and Yammer in the last few years and it has started to integrate voice and video-over-IP technology to bolster its collaboration features. Aside from the social-network style Newsfeed the latest Office 365 update brings high definition multi-party video conferencing through Lync, a technology that sits well with the work-anywhere ethos of Office 365 and is integrated nicely into Office 365, allowing for hour long meetings or five minute chats.
Microsoft offers the ability for businesses to setup their domain name with Microsoft's Domain Name Service (DNS) servers allowing for email accounts to have @companydomainname.com addresses. Microsoft makes the web-based setup relatively easy but firms will most likely still need their existing systems or network administrator to handle the configuration, meaning deploying Microsoft's Office 365 doesn't necessarily sound the death knell for in-house IT support.
Setting up the corporate domain name with Microsoft's DNS servers also allows firms to publish websites authored through Office 365. The firm allows the creation of public and private intranet style websites and while Office 365's web authoring features are not going to win any awards, it is simple and can produce professional websites.
Office 365 users can create their own intranet web pages, which again lacks the creative flare of professionally designed websites but nevertheless presents an ability to share information within the organisation and can even be limited to specific Office 365 users within the organisation. Office 365 allows users to build websites by adding pre-packaged apps such as a wiki, picture libraries and discussion boards in a matter of minutes avoiding the headache of uploading HTML files.
Better than Google Apps
Visually, the differences between Google's Apps and Microsoft's Office 365 is little, both featuring clinical interfaces. However, Microsoft’s productivity suite is more comprehensive and the ability to use stream a full version of programs give it the edge.
Microsoft and Google price their relative packages similarly, but the fact that Office 365 allows you to use the full suite on machines which don't have it installed.
The ability for enterprises to subscribe to applications considerably lowers capital expenditure and given that Google Apps will not completely eliminate the need for many firms to splash out on standalone versions of Microsoft Office, so the Office 365 subscriptions that bundle standalone Office suites are worthy of consideration.
Is it worth the upgrade?
Microsoft's latest Office 365 suite compliments its Office 2013 suite and builds in vital collaboration features that will help enterprises that has a mobile workforce. Office 365 has improved video conferencing and intranet features, but we would recommend businesses plump for the packages which allow Office 2013 or Office 2011 for Mac to be installed on five devices.
Microsoft has worked on Office 365's collaboration features and it shows. The Newsfeed, the multi-participant high definition video conferencing and ability to create websites with wikis and forums in one click is impressive from both a functionality an ease-of-use standpoint. Although we wouldn't suggest enterprises ditch the standalone version of Office just yet, if Microsoft continues to develop Office 365 at its current pace then future standalone suites may become surplus to requirements.