Office 365 Beta

I finally got my Office 365 Beta account up and running. It wasn’t that it was hard to do, it was just that I was a little to occupied with other things.

I was shocked at several issues when setting up and configuring O365.

  • It was easy to setup my account. 
  • It was easy to migrate a live domain to the account.
  • It was easy to setup the initial users.
  • It was easy to set permissions and manage features for individual users.
  • It works like a charm.
  • It works with my cell phone.
  • It is pretty well documented.
  • It provides TONS of value for what it will eventually cost.

In the past, I have written about how much I loved Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS). I still do. However, O365 will be replacing BPOS with upgraded services and a much easier to use Web interface. Newer is absolutely better in this case.

I setup email using the Exchange Online and tested it once I let the DNS MX records update. Nice. Easy. Responsive. I was surprised, though, to find out that there are lots of new features in the Exchange part of O365 that didn’texist in BPOS. They really did a great job of exposing more of the Exchange functionality through the Web admin tool than we had with BPOS.

Lync setup and configuration was extremely easy as well. I still haven’t test federation with Lync, but it looks like it will be extremely easy to configure. I will play with that in the next few days. The fees will include the ability to chat, make audio and video calls to other Lync users, and to host web conferences. All Lync users in Office 365 can have the ability to host their own online Web conferences with audio and video. Each Web conference can include features like whiteboarding, application sharing, and of course PowerPoint presentations.

SharePoint is kind of the unknown at this point. From a quick run through the interface, it offers several features that were not available in BPOS. I have heard that it will be fully customizable and that there will be several templates so that O365 customers will be able to use it to host their Internet facing Web presence as well. What really shocked me is that I found that the limits for storage for the SharePoint implementation are AMAZING: 500 MB per user account, GB per site collection, up to a total of 1 TB total storage for the entire company on O365.

I am not about to start throwing around pricing numbers because I just don’t know how valid they are at this point. According to the FAQ, though, there are a few different plans and the basic small business plan runs $6/mo per user. Ummm, that is pretty nice. You can’t even rent a desk for that much for a small business. For my company, we are talking $30/month for a total of $365 per year. I can’t even begin to run my own internal environment for that little bit of money much less have it backed up and maintained. I couldn’t even manage the anti-spam for my company for that much per year.

Anyways, I will be working with O365 in the Beta, and I will probably migrate completely to O365 once the Beta program expires. I am loving what I am seeing at this point, and I will save a ton of money and time by moving my production environment onto O365.

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