Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO, Steve Ballmer says, “What happens when Microsoft Office meets the cloud?”
You get Office 365.
CEO Ballmer promoted Microsoft’s new cloud product at an event in New York City. It puts applications including Outlook, Excel and Sharepoint into an online format, which means users can access the software from any device that connects to the Web.
The service is a big move to protect Microsoft Office, its most profitable product.
As Samara Lynn of PCMag.com explains:
“Microsoft is targeting Google. Google Apps and Google Documents and make no mistake they are targeting it hard and they are already entrenched in business. Microsoft already has business. So this is a big deal for Google.”
Mr. Ballmer made it clear they want to appeal to small and medium sized businesses.
“We developed a wide range of service plans that are designed to meet the needs of a variety of companies of different sizes. With Office 365, businesses can simply pay a monthly subscription at a price they can predict and afford or they can connect office software that they own already with the Office 365 service. Their choice.”
The service costs between $2 and $27 per user, per month depending on the features. But Google has a flat rate of $50 per year.
Like Google, Microsoft will store users’ data on its servers. But Microsoft will also allow companies to put data on dedicated servers, or keep the data on the company’s own premises, a way to appease security concerns.
“There is a lot of businesses, specific businesses that do have some security concerns: your doctor’s office, your dentist’s office, your accountant. The government requires these businesses to comply with certain regulations to protect our information which we want.”
And while Google may have a head start, Microsoft with its billion plus Office users worldwide as a base, certainly means business.
Bottom line: Microsoft is taking its lucrative Office software to the clouds with Office 365, its biggest push into the mobile, Internet-accessible world of cloud computing as it tries stave-off competition from Google.