Microsoft is launching Office 365 today, and to anyone not experienced with Microsoft’s wonderful marketing abilities, the launch blurb might sound as though there’s something to interest the developer. What is of interest is the fact that there’s zilch there for us.
Despite its name, Office 365 is essentially a rebadged of BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), Microsoft’s online Exchange and SharePoint offering that has been bedevilled by service problems recently. It consists of online hosted versions of Exchange for email, SharePoint for collaborative portals, and Lync for voice and instant messaging.
Customers also get Office Web components that, according to the Office 365 website lets users:
‘view your Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft OneNote documents online and make basic edits on the go’,
If your users have more than 25 employees who need a licence, there is an option to add Office Professional Plus as a ‘pay as you go’ feature. If a user wants to do something more than the very basic editing permitted by the website, they use their locally installed Office app - Word, Excel or whatever. If they’ve not got it installed on the machine on which they’re working, they can download it ‘straight from the cloud’, as the Office 365 site charmingly puts it.
So that won’t cause any problems with business users who have limited administrative rights - will it?
So how is this cloud?
Despite the Office 365 site suggesting that this is “Office in the cloud and so much more”, the main fly-in-the-ointment for developers is that there’s no way your business users can make use of add-ins, VBA macros, or any form of customisation, unless they fall back on the locally installed applications. In which case, this isn’t Office in the cloud; it’s locally installed Office where the Exchange and SharePoint servers are hosted elsewhere.