updated 01:35 pm EDT, Tue October 19, 2010
Microsoft Office 365 cloud service arrives
Microsoft's cloud app efforts grew more serious today with a launch for Office 365. The service gives web access to a full-strength version of Office on the web, including simultaneous collaboration, as well as online versions of Exchange, Lync and SharePoint. The platform is OS-independent and will even work on smartphones and tablets.
The approach has a per-person subscription cost but is pitched as ideal for companies where remote access is common or where deploying physical copies of Office and server apps across a network would be laborious. Since all updates happen on the web, everyone gets the same version immediately.
Beta testing for 365 starts today with a few thousand companies and should become a finished service in 2011. Pricing starts at $6 per person per month for individuals or any company with less than 25 workers, but larger companies get more options. Companies can move to as little as $2 per person for just e-mail and scale up to $24 per person for the full Office Professional Plus suite, complete with basic video editing, as well as dedicated support, social networking components, AV conferencing and special on-site licenses.