It's Office 365 day, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) employees are no doubt dancing in the streets of Redmond. They'll be celebrating the launch -- after a long beta gestation -- of the company's latest cloud service for messaging, collaboration, and good-old Office documents. Which is nice, but please don't all rush at once -- there are a few reasons why you should think twice before signing. Here are my top five reasons, inThe Long View...
Why wouldn't you use Office 365? Well, you should be fine if you have nomobile users, nor MacOS users. Oh, and if your organization is rich enough for you to have a large budget surplus at the end of each quarter. And you have sufficient, competent staff on-site to manage it (despite it being a cloud service). Not to mention caring little for uptime or security.
If I were a Microsoft shareholder, I'd be bitterly disappointed with today's news.Read on...
5. Mobile workers can't use it
Aside from Exchange support, Office 365's mobile support isextremely limited. Even if Windows Phone 7 users are out of luck -- although they get some additional Sharepoint support.
Hello, Microsoft; it's 2011. Mobility isn't just a niche requirement any more. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me that Microsoft believes it's acceptable to be all-but dependent on a Windows PC running Office, but the company clearly isthinking that way. Madness.
4. Office for Mac users can't use it
If you're rocking the latest version of Microsoft Office on MacOS, you'resimilarly hosed. Office 2011 for Mac doesn't work with Office 365.
Your Windows-using cousins can use a four-year-old version of Office, but Microsoft won't let you use this year's model. Crazy.
3. It's expensive
It costsbetween $120 and $324per user per year to get on board the Office 365 train. There is a cheaper $72 option for very small businesses, but the feature set is crippled, with limited support.
Those figures include the desktop software subscription, which isn't optional. Even if you've already licensed Office, you have to buy a subscription to the Office 2010 "Professional Plus" edition.
Why the many options and large price range? It's a great way toconfuse customers into buying morethan they need. Confusion can cause customers to choose a more expensive SKU than is required
2. It's needlessly complicated
There's so much legacy involved in the various Office 365 components, that this hardly smells like a cloud service at all. Case in point: ActiveDirectory. Yes, this is the Microsoft way of doing things; and yes, forest federation between on-site and the cloud is kinda clever; but I can't help believing it's simply overkill for most organizations that want to live in the cloud.
Thisovercomplexity is made clearwhen you look at the reams of transition documentation aimed at existing BPOS customers. BPOS (Business Productivity Online Service), the earlier version of Microsoft's cloud service, will be going away in time, so users must migrate to Office 365.
While no infrastructure can achieve 100% uptime or 100% security, it's important for a cloud service to demonstrate that it's better than your in-house equivalent. Microsoft is very visibly failing to do that.
Am I being too hard on Microsoft?
Office 365 is certainly an improvement on BPOS, but I don't think that's enough for most organizations. Microsoft's cloud competition certainly has its own sets of limitations, but they're not exactly standing still in this race.