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Microsoft Announces Web-Based Office365 210

suraj.sun writes "Aiming to bolster its hosted software for businesses, Microsoft announced today that it is adding Web-based versions of Office to its collection of hosted software for business, Office365. It will also offer traditional Office as a subscription-based service. Microsoft is pricing the service as low as $6 per user per month, though that version includes only the Web-based versions of Office."
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Microsoft Announces Web-Based Office365

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:04PM (#33951874) Homepage Journal

    It isn't mentioned in the article, but does anyone know if Office365 "works best" with IE or is it browser-agnostic? For example, Microsoft's Outlook Web Access is quite decent when accessed with IE but with Firefox or Safari it's not nearly as nice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NewWorldDan ( 899800 )

      Nothing more complicated than a "hello world" page is browswer-agnostic.

      But it's also a pretty safe bet that it's not a true browser app (I'm not sure what that means), but will be Silverlight based. So on that front, so long as you're running a browser that supports Silverlight, you should get the exact same experiance. There may be more info in TFA, but it's down for me at the moment, so I'm just going to speculate wildly.

      • Nothing more complicated than a "hello world" page is browswer-agnostic.

        Just "Hello, world" then, in pure ASCII?

        Guess that whole HTML and CSS and Javascript standards thing must have been my imagination.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Their web site claims "Works with the devices you use most - including PC, Mac, Windows Phone, iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry" but it doesn't say "Works well".

      I'd think it would have to be relatively browser-agnostic to make that claim, but who knows?

      • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

        If it really works on iPhone then at least we know it doesn't use Flash or SilverLight.

      • by Anpheus ( 908711 )

        The Office Web Apps, for what they do, work on Chrome/FireFox/Opera just fine at work. Sharepoint also works fine on all of those now, too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ickleberry ( 864871 )
      if it needs a specific browser to run which only works on a specific operating system they should just have made it a desktop office suite (separate from MS Office even, start from scratch).

      This is more of the last few year's trend of making everything web-based just so the company making it can appear to be with the times of having everything web/cloud/subscription based with no real advantage
      • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:42PM (#33953580) Journal

        This brings up something I've been wondering for awhile: What moron killed Works, and why? Yeah I hated the Works file format as much as the next guy, but it was a great way for them to push product to the Walmart crowd and OEMs. If anybody there had a brain they'd take Word, Powerpoint, and Maybe OneNote, and package that as "MSFT Office Home" and push that in the low end market and to OEMs instead of more "Web 2.0" crap. Lets be honest folks, this is probably gonna bomb, and bomb hard. Those that need MS Office are probably just gonna pick up a retail edition, and those in the low end without Works being supplied by OEMs is probably gonna end up with Open Office. from a company standpoint this is just further proof in my opinion that Ballmer is to MSFT what the Pepsi guy was to Apple and needs a good firing.

        And slightly OT, but can we change the "Bill Gates Borg" icon please? yes Bill was good at the "evil Nerd Genius" thing, but has been gone for ages. I would like to propose a BETTER icon, which I bet most here would agree is a better description of MSFT currently: Steve Ballmer with his tongue sticking out with a propeller beanie and a "I heart Apple!" T-shirt. This would better describe the current direction (which is pretty much "We can be as cool and hip as Apple! Yes we can! Yes we really can! STOP LAUGHING AT ME"!) and the "me too!" attitude at MSFT, not to mention the piss poor image the CEO brings to the table, better than the MSFT Gates Borg. Hell at least let the guys at /. vote in a poll on it! Who's with me? Down with Gates Borg, up with Ballmer Beanie!

        • +1 on new icon
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by oatworm ( 969674 )

          What moron killed Works, and why?

          A bloody genius, that's who. Between OpenOffice and Microsoft Office Home & Student Edition (only slightly more expensive than Works' retail pricing, not that anyone ever paid for it), Works doesn't make sense anymore, if it ever really did in the first place. Creating a watered down version of Office wasn't a bad idea, mind you, but making it incompatible with Office and pushing it as an OEM solution just caused a ton of frustration among people who rightly expected "

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:28PM (#33952364) Journal

      does anyone know if Office365 "works best" with IE or is it browser-agnostic?

      If you run it on anything other than IE, it will take 365 days to load. Hence, the name.

    • by vlueboy ( 1799360 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:32PM (#33952432)

      Hotmail is controlled by MS. IIRC, about a year ago they started displaying PPS (and maybe DOC) attachments in-browser. They did so while promoting the "works best with Silverlight... install" here.

      So they have gathered enough statistics on Silverlight and any failures in display that always come from end-user feedback. Now, they are ready to entice corporations. The corps will have to approve Silverlight for their outdated browsers, or be faced with the same "degraded" fallback interfaces that result in reduced productivity that you already noted with Outlook's non-native execution.

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      I reviewed the Web-based versions of Office a while ago for InfoWorld. I was pretty underwhelmed [], but browser support wasn't really a problem. Microsoft is officially supporting IE, Firefox, and Safari. In practice, I found Chrome and even Konqueror worked pretty much fine. You get better document rendering and maybe some other goodies if you have Silverlight installed, but it's not necessary.

      On the other hand, the functionality you get from Web-based Office is a far cry from what you can do with the deskto

    • The latest version of Outlook Web Access is pretty browser-agnostic. Previous versions were not, that's true.

      Office Web Apps work fine on Firefox, though they might require having Silverlight installed. I'm not going to touch Safari, thanks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ejdmoo ( 193585 )

      Hello there! I work on the Outlook Web App team. The version of OWA shipped in Exchange 2010 SP1 is supported in (and works equally well in)...

      - IE 7+ (note that IE6 is not supported)
      - Firefox 3+
      - Safari 3.1+
      - Chrome 3+

      This is the version of OWA included in Office 365.

      Source: []

  • That is the low price?
    So for a company of 500, a medium size business, you are looking at $36k/year and no real reduction in onsite costs other than adding office to the images and the cost of office.

    Seems to expensive for small businesses and too low value for the big ones.

    • Re:That is low (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:12PM (#33952018)

      $6 / mo = $72 / year. Considering Office Professional costs close to $400, this is basically a subscription model. Yes, the $6/mo is cheaper than $400 / 5 years.

      If $6 / mo is *expensive*, then I'm not sure how people manage payroll.

      • Re:That is low (Score:4, Interesting)

        by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:41PM (#33952630)

        You forgot to factor in the 25GB Exchange online mailboxes and Sharepoint Online for each user that doesn't come with Office Professional.

      • $6 / mo = $72 / year.

        Or, to put it a different way, the cheapest version of Microsoft's hosted apps system is 44% more than the price of Google Apps Premier (and #DIV/0% more than the cost of Google Apps Standard.)

        If $6 / mo is *expensive*

        Expensive is always in terms of the alternatives.

        then I'm not sure how people manage payroll.

        By not spending more than is warranted on other things.

      • Volume licensing is significantly less than that. Minimum 5 licenses.
    • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )
      ... and for a single user it would be $72. Assuming 3 years between new versions of MS Office, the total payment would be $216. Not cheap at all.
    • $36k/year is expensive for a company of 500 people?

      • Tell you what (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'll install OpenOffice 500 times and you can pay me the $36k. Deal?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Shados ( 741919 )

          Sure, if you include 25 gb managed mailboxes for the 500 people with a 99.9% uptime SLA and 24/7 support, backups, failover, etc. That is going to be entertaining.

          • Not sure why this is marked troll.

            Exchange Online is part of the deal, providing all those services.

          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            That SLA is worthless, read it. At most you get back a percentage of what you paid.

            But with that included it is not that bad.

          • Man... I'd love to even have a 1gb mail box.

            I'm under outlook and limited to 100mb (as is everyone at the company).

            I have 5gb each in my personal accounts.

            My outlook work accounts clogs with a few screen shots these days.

          • Drat! You're right! It would be far too difficult to get 500 people Gmail accounts.

            You got me.

            • by Shados ( 741919 )

              Now, think about that really hard for a sec. A -lot- of companies go with Google Apps Premier for their gmail accounts (at 50$/year/user). There's a reason for it.

  • Its website (Score:5, Informative)

    by neo00 ( 1667377 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:09PM (#33951960)
  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:17PM (#33952134)
    I assume the next version will be Office 366. How long have I been asleep?
    • by barzok ( 26681 )

      There won't be version numbers. They'll just roll out updates, fixes & new features over time. Just like Google Docs and GMail - I don't recall seeing version numbers there, updates just roll out every now and then.

    • by AJWM ( 19027 )

      It just means that it won't work during leap years -- and the next one is less than 15 months away.

    • Office 366 is reserved for Leap Years...

  • by lbalbalba ( 526209 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:18PM (#33952152)
    Guess that covers Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Access. So what's the rest, then ? Visio ? Exchange ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vlm ( 69642 )

      Guess that covers Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Access. So what's the rest, then ? Visio ? Exchange ?

      Good point. Google Docs has a word processor thats better because its free. Its a competitive market. But what about Visio?

      Who out there has a web based Visio that I can use? Like for network and wiring diagrams?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 )

        Good point. Google Docs has a word processor thats better because its free.

        Man, I'll give you some human excrement for free ... that doesn't make it better.

        Free crap is still free crap. Not saying that the Google app is, in fact, crap. Merely that "free" and "better" are on separate axes.

      • For an office with >10 people, Google Docs is not free... Also the MS offer includes Exchange and docs with a 25GB per account storage.
    • Exchange has had Outlook Web Access for years - it literally invented the AJAX webmail interface, in fact. My university started offering webmail through (which really does look and work a lot like desktop Outlook) a couple years ago, and it's far better than any other webmail interface that I've tried.

  • Well, it is really a bad name per my understanding.

    To keep up with the trend, they should try "iOffice", "FaceOffice",

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Powerpoint-Roulette, how many slides till an adult image?

    • by sco08y ( 615665 )

      Well, it is really a bad name per my understanding.

      To keep up with the trend, they should try "iOffice", "FaceOffice",

      It's Office365 because it won't work on Feb 29.

  • by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:19PM (#33952162)

    I'm surprised it's taken this long to get this kind of offering and price point out -- it's seemed clear for a while that Microsoft would like to grow a presence in the "software as a service" space.

    • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:49PM (#33952758)

      LOL. A little tidbit of history that may not be widely known or at least not widely remembered - Microsoft has actually developed web-based versions of its Office product on at least 2 previous occasions, perhaps more. These products never saw the light of day, and for various reasons, strategic and political chief among them, the projects were axed, developers reassigned, and code tossed away then restarted some time later when somebody decided that NOW the time was ripe for a web-based office.

      Amusingly enough, I believe one of these efforts was part of what was originally termed the ".NET initiative" and was called "Office.NET" at least as a working title - back when .NET meant anything and everything, before they decided that .NET actually was the class library and VM for their C# language. See, for example, this article [] from back in 2002.

      Remember what a confused mess the .NET initiative was? It's truly amazing how much Microsoft has had its head up its ass over the last decade. Windows 7 is the first decent product they've put out in *years*.

      A friend of mine from college, a very bright guy, was one of the project managers on the Office.NET project before it got axed. Anyway, he was so frustrated by his experience with this project that I believe it was in part his reason for leaving Microsoft.

      So... it seems like they finally followed through on this, but it's not like the idea just occurred to them recently. No, it's more likely they only decided to bring it to market now because of the cloud computing hype and the fact that the traction of OpenOffice.Org and other Office alternatives has them scared shitless (of course, OpenOffice has just fragmented itself and will probably manage to squander the traction they've finally obtained after all these years of effort).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Maybe "Office success in the cloud" will be co-temporal with "Year of the Linux desktop" :)

        Thanks for your informative post (you're already at the exalted height of +5 so we can't mod more).
  • Office386 ! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:23PM (#33952252) Journal

    I misread the title as "Office386", and was thinking, "Boy, Microsoft really is falling behind the curve".

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:26PM (#33952298) Journal

    Gates: "365 days a year otta be enough for anybody."

  • There are a few types of programs I would expect to lose functionality when I lose internet access. MMO games, an internet browser, email.

    There are some I would expect to always be functional regardless of internet connection. Media players, single-player games, and office suites are some examples.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 )

      There are a few types of programs I would expect to lose functionality when I lose internet access. MMO games, an internet browser, email.

      There are some I would expect to always be functional regardless of internet connection. Media players, single-player games, and office suites are some examples.

      You must be part of my generation of older computer users who still remember what it's like to not have always-on, high-speed broadband access streaming everywhere.

      I guess my point here is there's no point in worrying about the "what-ifs" when you lose internet access, because for todays generation of internet addicts who are tethered online with no less than three devices within 17.5 meters of their body at all times, the answer to your question is very simple; nothing will get done. At all. It'll be mas

      • by eepok ( 545733 )

        Indeed, I'm part of that still-mostly-young generation that grew up with the option of dial-up and broadband was not ubiquitous. Pagers were mainstream and cell phones were just breaking into the mass market.

        More importantly, I come from a low-income background where there were some months where we had to decide to pay the electricity bill in whole and risk losing water or try to negotiate with the electric company some way to pay later. Plenty of people still live the same way and would likely easily be su

  • by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:59PM (#33952936)
    Imagine the board decision meeting.

    Seattle moderator: Right, we wanna shov... sell our Office sofware [sic.] to the wider public and we need a name. You John?
    John: Well, how's about we name it Office %VERSION%++
    SM: Very good indeed, John... You Mark?
    Mark: It's for the people ... which are alive ... eh lets name it "Live ........
    (Several hours pass)
    SM: (Yelling) Oh for god's sake, we can't name everything 360, can we!
    Some nobody: (Very meek voice) 365 maybe? For the year, you know? OK, I'll get my coat.
    (Several more hours pass)
    SM: (Desperate) OK, 365 it is.
    Another nobody: (Very softly) And what about leap years?.
  • The Numbers (Score:5, Informative)

    by stimpleton ( 732392 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:05PM (#33953058)
    From TFA :"$27 per user per month"

    I work for an New Zealand small - medium company. The stacks up thus:

    Option 1. 20 seat Office 2010 enterprise license - $13,000 per annum
    Option 2. Office 365. 20 x $27/month x $NZ Exchange = $8484 per annum.
    Option 3. 20 OEMS with hardware purchase(assume 4 year cycle): $2500 per annum

    PS: US readers will think I have these numbers grossly wrong. I havent. The cost of doing business in NZ is expensive. Option 1 could drop in price. I have already had an email stating this could change as they are keen to always "find a best fit for an organisation".
    • Your comparisons are hardly accurate or fair. You chose the most expensive option for subscription which included sharepoint and Exchange while completely excluding them from option 1 or 3. Realistically option 2 would be significantly cheaper if you excluded exchange and sharepoint or 1 and 3 would be many thousands of dollars higher and include additional hardware costs.
    • If you are in New Zealand I suggest checking out a Google license (Fronde is the local agent I think). It would seem they're quite a bit cheaper than the MS offerings and new features come out quite frequently.

      Disclaimer: I'm a contractor who's passed through Fronde recently (not an employee), and have my ear to the ground and just wanted to share that you might be able to get a better deal with Google than Office365 in NZ (real disclaimer: personally I prefer OpenOffice and Ubuntu, but I realise not ever
    • Option 4. $0 per annum.
      (Of course, that's just the monetary cost. You'll probably need to expend some time doing a little user re-education...)
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:07PM (#33953094) Homepage Journal

    They're going to be so screwed when the service goes down for an entire day every four years. Ah, but then they'll introduce Office365+.

  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:09PM (#33953120)

    All you need to do is install this 1.2 GB active x control. Or you can opt for the 1.6 GB active x professional version that includes "web bob" and "clippy".

  • well, not so much, at the end is just 5 degrees, but the number looks impressive.
  • On the plus side, this means that some businesses may not be so trapped with Windows due to their reliance on Exchange. This has always been a big sticking point for the use of Linux and other open source platforms in businesses. To have any option of using Exchange on a Linux desktop opens up some interesting possibilities.

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