I’m kicking off today a three-part seriesabout Microsoft’s Office 365, the company’s software-as-a-service offering.
When Microsoft announced its plans for Office 365 in October of this year, few were cognizant of the five-plus years of groundwork that preceded the launch of its hosted-application platform. Few also seemed to understand why and how Microsoft is attempting to coalesce its varied hosted app offerings under a single brand and infrastructure. I’m hoping with this series to explain the past, present and future of one of the most important elements of Microsoft’s cloud strategy. Office 365 is the new name for the Microsoft services offerings currently known as Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Live@edu and Office Live Small Business. Office 365 is in limited beta now and will be available to customers in the first half of calendar 2011. More nuts-and-bolts details about Office 365 are available via my ZDNet Webcast, “Office 365 Essentials,” which is downloadable for free (with registration).
Laying the Office 365 Foundation
The idea of a suite of Microsoft-hosted applications isn’t something new that the Softies dreamed up in response to Google Docs. Microsoft execs were pondering the possibilities of hosted applications as far back as 2003 to 2004, when Microsoft began making a handful of key strategic acquisitions in this arena.