Microsoft recently published a 26-page guide titled “Business Productivity Online Standard Suite Introduction to Transition.” We were already pretty skeptical about Microsoft’s “cloud” solution, but this Transition Guide has piqued our curiosity. See excerpts 1-4 below:
1. “The transition from BPOS to Office 365 does not represent a new version or product for Microsoft Online Services customers. Office 365 is an evolution of BPOS. The transition does, however, represent a major architectural shift for Microsoft’s Online Services architecture from on-premises servers adapted to the cloud, to a fully re-architected service-oriented design.”
BPOS was built on the 2007 version of Microsoft products, while Office 365 is built on the 2010 version. So what happens when Exchange 14 hits the shelves? What sort of “transition” should customers expect? And, if this is only an “evolution,” why is so much work involved in the transition? Customers should learn from what is taking place right now in the transition from BPOS to Office 365; this is a full-fledged migration effort and not just an upgrade. What assurances do you have that when the next product revisions from Microsoft come around that you will not have to do this labor-intensive migration again?
2. “This new architecture means that future major service updates to the Office 365 service should have an even lower overall impact on customers than the transition from BPOS to Office 365.”
This point is interesting because, unlike Google, they are not saying there is “no impact” during product updates, but just that the impact will be “lower.” Because Office 365 is constructed on the legacy platform of Office 2010 and continues to store data and software on the desktop, Office 365 requires software upgrades, patching and unknown hours of wait time for end-users during maintenance.
Furthermore, because Office 365 is Microsoft’s first “cloud” venture, the reliability of the platform is still unknown (though there have been several outages thus far). Additionally, Microsoft does not make its uptime statistics available to the public and does not factor planned maintenance and outages into its promised 99.9% uptime statistic.
3. “Office Web Apps does not provide all the capabilities of the Microsoft Office rich client.”
Simply put, this means that Office Web Apps do not have the robust capabilities of Microsoft Word and the other Office suites. So in order for Office 365 customers to retain the full capabilities of the Microsoft Office suite, they’ll have to work on the desktop clients. This severely detracts from the idea of a cloud-based system. After all, what good does it do to have cloud access if all of the documents you need are saved on a desktop rather than in the cloud?
4. Office Web Apps document reading capability is part of SharePoint Online and is available in all SKUs. Not all SKUs offer a version of Office Web Apps with the ability to edit documents in a browser.
Just how many versions of Office 365 are there? The least expensive option for Office 365 is $6/user/mo, and this baseline subscription is only available to businesses with fewer than 50 people; never mind the fact that this is still a total of $72/user/year, more than the $50/user/year Google charges for Apps. Furthermore, this subscription at $6/user/mo does not include many platform essentials, such as Office Web apps, which are required to take advantage of anywhere-access cloud capabilities within the suite.
Though Microsoft does tout the cost-effective $6/user/mo Office 365 base plan, what they don’t say is that this plan is only available to a select number of people who will eventually find they need
to pay more to be able to use the suite in the way it was intended.
Once prospective users get past the initial $6/user/mo pitch, they’ll see that Office 365 offers four main pricing plans with options for add-ons. The plans and add-ons can be mixed and matched, resulting in dozens of plan options that can become unmanageable and, quite frankly, confusing.
Check back next week for excerpts 5-9.