Microsoft Launches Major Office 365 Update

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Microsoft on Wednesday launched a major update to Office 365, adding support for the 2013 editions of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online while introducing three new flavors of its cloud-enabled services for very small to huge businesses: Office 365 ProPlus, Midsize, and Small Business Premium.

Along with the launch came the announcement that, in some SKUs of Office 365, customers can now receive Microsoft Office applications on up to five devices per user.

Also as of Wednesday, existing customers with editions of Office 365 that include Microsoft Office can begin using Office 2013, an edition that brings strong embracement of both cloud communications and the touch interface.

The three new flavors bring the total number of Office 365 SKUs to ten. The new Office 365 ProPlus differs from the existing Office Professional Plus 13 mainly by including support for up to five installs per user on a PC or a Mac. Unlike some other Office 365 SKUs, though, Office Professional Plus does include the full suite of Microsoft Office applications, not just the Office Web Apps.

Other differentiating features between the two SKUs include management frills in ProPlus such as roaming settings and automated user account provisioning. ProPlus is available as a standalone offering at $144 per user per year.

The new Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 Midsize Business also support up to five installs of the Microsoft Office suite per user on a PC or a Mac. In contrast, the existing Office 365 includes Office Web Apps only, according to information on Microsoft’s TechNet site.

Small Businsess Premium, priced at $150 per user per year, is aimed at companies with one to 10 employees. Office 365 Midsize Business, priced at $180 per user per year, is for organizations with between 10 and 250 employees. The Midsize Business edition offers some administrative features unavailable in Small Business Premium, such as business intelligence and support for blocking cloud-based storage.

The 2013 generation of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync services offer new capabilities for employee ccollaboration, search, eDiscovery, and data loss prevention.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to Notebook Review that customers will be notified two weeks before they are transitioned to the upgraded Office 365. “They also have the option to postpone the upgrade for a minimum of 60 days,” the spokesperson said.

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