For better or worse, Microsoft ( MSFT) is starting to hang ten on the office apps wave.Remember the good old days of say, 18 months ago? Google ( GOOG) ruled the Web-based business app seas with its Google Apps line of office software tools. And Microsoft was king of the so-called on-premises office world -- that is, the Microsoft Office line of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and all the rest that runs from the PCs sitting on office desks.
Office 365 tries to bring all the benefits of centrally administered business-class software to a Web-based environment even the smallest of businesses can use.
Office 365 is neither a first-quality Web experience nor something you or your people are going to understand, at least to start. For all the steps Microsoft has taken in making its software Web-ready, be warned: Office 365 cannot match the wide-open Internet in terms of collaboration or ease of use. Google Apps, for example, crushes this application when it comes to collaborative features. And installing Office 365, at least in this beta, is far from smooth. Software must be downloaded, connections established, licences managed and all the rest. For a generation of Web users weened on logging into Facebook and instantly typing their brains out, Office 365 takes some getting used to. What do I do?
For sure, anybody with skin in the office software game should take a look at this beta, if only to get a feel for what Microsoft is up to. I expect you will find Office 365 surprisingly powerful. But(!) I would definitely hold off deploying this tool in an active office until the beta develops a bit. It just too early to say whether Redmond's attempt to ride the Web wave will send them gracefully up on the beach ... or crush them utterly out on the rocks. >To submit a news tip, email: email@example.com.
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