Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Microsoft rolls out Office 365

IIPM Prof Rajita Chaudhuri - The New Age Woman

Microsoft Corp. made its biggest move into the mobile, internet-accessible world of "cloud" computing on Tuesday, taking the wraps off a revamped online version of its hugely profitable Office software suite.

The world's largest software company is heaving its two-decade old set of applications -- including Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint collaboration tools -- into an online format so that customers can use them on a variety of devices from wherever they can get an Internet connection.

It wants to push back against Google Inc, which has stolen a small but worrying percentage of corporate customers with cheaper, web-only alternatives, which remove the need for companies to spend time on installing software or managing servers.

"It puts Microsoft in a better position than they were -- they now have a broad product that they can more easily sell," said Michael Silver, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner.

Microsoft shares rose 0.8 per cent on Tuesday, following a 3.7 per cent jump the day before, partly buoyed by hopes that the company can ultimately boost profits by extending its software dominance to the growing cloud sector.

Microsoft has offered online versions of some Office programs -- chiefly Outlook email -- for its corporate customers for several years, and last year rolled out free versions for individual home users.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer presented the overhauled and updated set of offerings -- collectively called Office 365 -- at an event in New York City on Tuesday morning, stressing that online versions and built-in conferencing tools can save users money, especially small and medium-sized businesses.

One test customer "expects to cut travel costs and reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent after they retire the 60 servers they think they will save," said Ballmer.

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