It really hasn’t been that long since Microsoft announced that their Office 365 was ready for beta. I myself got my beta invite, which I applied for immediately after the official announcement, only about a month ago. But Microsoft seems to think they’re ready: They’ve announced a June 28th release for the commercial version of the product, as well as a free version for non-commercial users. The success of this product will be a key component of how cloud-based productivity forms over the next few years.
Right now the main cloud productivity service is Google, who offers its various productivity options (such as Calendar, Docs, etc.) free of charge to normal users and as a suite with some additional support via Google Apps. While Google has been a dominant player, converting those more used to traditional software hasn’t been easy. Google has earned some trust, but the question is whether it will be enough to outweigh the longstanding relationship many business and personal users have with the Microsoft Office name.
Those who have already registered for the beta (which includes over 100,000 users) or those who get approved prior to the release date will receive one free month of the premium service. A free version of most utilities will be available for non-business users, however.
While Microsoft previously attempted some cloud software (including through elements of SharePoint and the BPOS suite), this is the first cloud-based version to be released. There’s no clear winner in regards to feature when comparing the Microsoft and Google suites, so this will primarily be a battle of the brands. If Microsoft can reclaim those who have turned to Docs, the impact will be substantial for Google.
[via the International Business Times]