Microsoft Office 365

Office-365-Logo-Thumb

I’ve heard some rumblings about Microsoft Office 365, so I thought I should go take a look.

Many Churches and organizations are moving in the direction of cloud computing, and Microsoft has recently decided to jump in the pool with Office 365.

You get the latest versions of the familiar Office applications and the Office Web Apps, freeing your people to create, communicate, and work together efficiently from virtually any device.

I’m not sure they picked the greatest name. I understand, you have access 365 days of the year, but I want to leave work at work! The last thing I want is to be in the office 365.

The name is lame, but what about the applications and service?

Microsoft Office 365

Again, Microsoft has shown up to the races while everyone else is laps ahead. The only think they bring to the table of competition, is they are the business world’s default and everyone knows their name.

Everything they offer here is fairly standard for cloud business computing.

  • Work from anywhere on just about anything – desktop, tablet, smartphone.
  • All of your Outlook features and feel, online, with a disappointing 25MB inbox.
  • Share documents, edit, and collaborate.
  • Consistent formatting between Office Web Apps and desktop Office apps.
  • They provide some integrated video chat and project planning, which is nice, but there are so many more robust options.
  • Website designer? Seriously?
  • Manage, editing and sharing a database via Access. Very nice!
  • Video chat and IM.

I am really disappointed with what Microsoft put together. A handful of sub-par programs and apps and that can easily be beat with free apps.

Complicated

That pretty much sums it up.

Maybe we’ve gotten spoiled with all of these single use apps and free services, but Microsoft Office 365 is complicated. There are different levels of services, and then within those services there are variations in the plan:

  • Plan P
  • Plan E1-E4
  • Plan K1 and K2

What does it mean!?! #DoubleRainbow

Pricing

Just like Microsofts OS, they have multiple levels and pricing.

Microsoft Office 365 is $6 per user, per month for small business and professionals. The subscription model is really taking-off, as Adobe and others are delivering their products on a per month basis, now. Maybe it’s the economyor maybe technology is moving so fast, versions lock users in too much.

This is what you get for $6 per month, per user:

  • Email, calendar, contacts, personal archive, and 25 GB mailbox storage with 25 MB attachments with Exchange Online.
  • Online document viewing and basic editing capabilities with Office Web Apps.
  • Easily access and view files from your mobile device with Office Web Apps.
  • Consistent file formatting from desktop Office versions to web versions with Office Web Apps.
  • Sites to share documents and information with SharePoint Online.
  • Easily design and maintain a professional-looking public website with SharePoint Online.
  • Instant messaging, presence, online meetings, and PC-to-PC audio/video calls with Lync Online.
  • Share your desktop with colleagues and partners with Lync Online.
  • Premium antivirus and anti-spam filtering with Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange.

Microsoft recommends jumping-up to the Enterprise plan for those that have more than 50 employees, giving you different features and price points, varying from $10-27 per user, per month.

Conclusion

Since Microsoft is such a huge name, many Churches and organizations may be tempted to make their first jump into cloud computing and web apps with Office 365. Let me save you some time – don’t.

Unless you have some serious problems with the ‘terms of service’ of the other alternatives, I would stay clear of Microsoft’s Office 365.

Had Microsoft made the web apps as robust as their installed programs, they would have a real contender and maybe even a clear winner. They would have also done better if they would have made the web apps available for Microsoft Office users at no charge.

Again, Microsoft is so close, yet so far.

Microsoft Office 365 is an all-around disappointment.

3 SHARES

Eric Dye

I am a blogger, business owner and lover of coffee. I spend most of my time as writer and editor for ChurchMag, but you can also find me working on Live Theme and ChurchMag Press. All while enjoying my family and sipping espresso in Italy.

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  1. says

    OUCH! These are some pretty serious negatives. I wonder if anyone from Microsoft will respond.

    I know $6 a month isn’t a lot for an individual but for a small church with 3 employees and 10-20 ministry leaders and teachers in the church this would be a good size budget. If you are serious about implementing a full cloud communication set-up then everyone would need to be signed up.

  2. BenJPickett says

    Sorry about resurrecting a dead post on this but as a System and Domain Admin, I have to clear a few things up. 365 is not new, the name does leave a lot to be desired but it is an improvement over BPOS.

    As with MS other cloud offerings like Azure, the beauty is not all in the user experience. I have full control over the server, and that is huge since it’s not in my walls and I’m not leasing it. I can use Powershell from a workstation to connect and manage and control individual mailboxes or a group of them, reset a user’s password and almost anything else I need to do. With the Sharepoint side, you get 100GB of storage per site; additional sites are pretty cheap once you’ve made the transition. SharePoint is rock solid, I’ve worked with organizations that have almost spent 10k just investing in it for a small department.

    365 on a simple infrastructure is a serious investment. $6 a user is very affordable, but there’s still setup involved to get rolling; to use it all that is a decent amount of time. If you jump around between apps a lot, this isn’t the solution for you. It’s a commitment, unlike so many social technologies that come and go with the changes of the wind.

    Step up to the enterprise that runs up to $27 a user and you get Office Pro for the desktop of your choice which integrates very well with 365 and comes with Software Assurance. For those that don’t deal with MS licensing regularly, that means that you get the latest version of Office all the time; when 2013 or 2014 comes out, it’s yours. As a bonus your users get home use rights, so not only can they have Office in the cloud, the full suite at work, they can get the full suite at home too.

    Dealing with MS you can’t forget the security. The stuff you put on there belongs to you, you can delete it to get rid of it, for good, if you need to. Unlike with Google Docs, 365 is completely add free and the content on it will not be used to target adds to you, through any of your interweb browsing time.

    MS has also made considerable efforts in consolidating their licensing. They have gotten rid of several options and added lower pricing teirs and better volume discounting to save customers money.

    So while 365 is probably not the right choice for a small church, a mega church that rocks 100 or so computers, needs top notch security, collaboration and communication, this could be a very different tune.

  3. Mike says

    Office 365, although an improvement over BPOS (Business Productivity Office Suite) in some areas, has some significant drawbacks as compared to the previous Microsoft offering. I assist a church administrative office with their IT administration. Migrating to Office 365 from BPOS was eye opening like a triple shot expresso at three in the morning.

    The implementation of Office 365 brought email restrictions, virtually unpublished by Microsoft and not in any of the migration documentation provided to me. Now a single E-mail has a limit of 500 external email recipients, and each Office 365 user has a daily limit of 1,000 addresses. So what is the penalty of violation? An E-mail with 500 or more addresses is not sent. If a user hits the 1,000 address limit, then their account is suspended for the balance of the 24 hour period and cannot send or receive E-mail. BPOS was not nearly this restrictive in the limits it imposed. Had we known, we would have left Microsoft’s offering at our contract renewal date.

    Working with an organization that provides summer camps at multiple campgrounds and 300+ campers at each camp, you can imagine home many external E-mail addresses the organization might have. This has been a horrible experience, and the only thing that can make it worse is the support offered through Wipro and other India based subcontractors.

    The only upside to the service is the price as compared to most services, but you need a minimum of 5 user licenses to subscribe. Other downsides include integrating Mac users with Lync. The Lync client has a host of feature limitations in the Mac client that it makes it nearly worthless for IM chat purposes and insanely inconvenient to use. If you have to support Mac users, vmWare Fusion and a Windows based virtual machine will make your user much happier than Microsoft’s client for Mac. If you want to stay in the Windows server applications like Exchange, Sharepoint, and Lync, you may want to consider companies like Intermedia over Office 365. They do not have the E-mail limitations and the support is far better. The costs are higher, but you are getting much higher quality support and services.

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