NSI CT News: Microsoft Office 365, Benefits Moving to Cloud Computing

nsi ct cloud computing
IT Support Technician from NSI - review of Microsoft Office 365 / MS365: Working with Small and Medium Businesses as a Network Support Specialist, I'm asked about new advances in technology almost every day.  Most recently, I received an inquiry about Microsoft 365 / Office 365. *NOTE:  This post is from 2011, updated information is on its way!  Subscribe to this blog and get the latest on Office 365.  We will have a series of posts regarding Microsoft 365! Our "What needs work" section, below, will be addressed, along with other awesome improvements to this great product.

Microsoft has blended MS Office with the cloud and has come out of it with Office 365, a completely web based office suite for business use. My biggest fear is that Microsoft was going to take Office and just put it online as a web suite no different than Google Docs. But Microsoft has actually taken a surprising stance and thought this one through. While Office 365 isn’t there to replace office, it’s there to take the best part of Office and mix it with a cloud collaboration tool.

What makes Office 365 great

  • Access to all the essential office programs
    • All the most needed applications are there; Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, even Access if you pay for a higher level.
  • Low monthly subscription
    • At $6 it’s not overly expensive, costing $72 a year, compared to Google’s services which costs $50 a year, but Office365 does have some compelling value add-on’s to compensate for its extra cost.
  • No expensive upgrade cycle ever 3-4 years
    • Office can be expensive and upgrading has been a pain for many people, having to shell out $200 every couple of years for the latest version, by the time they have it the next one is coming out in a year. Having a subscription model allows all their users to be on the same version as its all controlled from Microsoft’s servers.
  • Collaboration
    • Best feature is Office365 Collaboration features. Many projects depend on working together which involved emailing the same document to each person whenever a revision is made, leaving to a lot copies and easy miscommunication. There are 3rd party options like dropbox, but even that is only a partial fix. Having the tools to create documents plus the tools to change everyone’s documents along with leaving notes allows a much more fluid experience when working together. It reminds me of taking what was good with Google Wave and mixing it with MS Office.
  • Online meetings
    • Built in is a way to dial in and have an online meeting including ways to display your desktop, all of this included with no need for 3rd party services.
  • Video Conferencing
    • With Collaboration being a huge part of this service, having a Video conference built into the package allows for much easier .
  • Built in IM

What needs work

  • Word/PowerPoint/Excel all need more options
    • The Office suite is still a crippled version of actual office. So this won’t fully replace your native Office application. The different ribbons look pretty barren after opening native Office, it’s great for the basic stuff, but anything advanced needs Office 2010.
      Office 365 Cloud Computing 
  • Crippled Chrome support
    • Not a huge deal, but you are given the option to open the file your working on in Office365 with your native Office application, unfortunately Chrome seems absent from the list of working browsers; IE, Safari, FireFox.

Conclusion

Benefits of Office 365?  Our conclusion is, overall Office 365 is a pretty good offering especially if you need to work offsite but still need to collaborate. I don’t see this as an Office replacement, but rather a way to collaborate with other remote users easily while using the tools from office. Office365 also has the benefit of being able to use Office from any computer, but in complete honesty, there are far fewer computers nowadays without office than there are with. If you ever have to work with other people on a project that aren’t sitting next to you than Office365 is fantastic, if you’re looking to replace Office2010 with it, you might want to refrain for the time being.

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About The Author

President of NSI, Tom has been helping small and medium businesses succeed in Connecticut for over 25 years.