For the fun of it and because I had some spare time, I tuned into the Microsoft launch of Office 365 in NYC via the web.
The content was pretty much as you’d expect from a Microsoft event:
- Marketing person welcomes everyone
- Steve Ballmer comes on and makes some introductory remarks, including how excited he is to be here and how great it is that Office 365 is now available in 40 geographies with more countries on the way…
- Microsoft people come on to do a demo of the technology (maybe because Steve can’t be trusted?). In this case, Kirk Koenigsbauer (a corporate VP) and John (?) showed some nice examples of collaborative document authoring using Word 2010 and the Word web app plus using a Windows 7 phone to capture a phone and insert it into a OneNote document. Best of all was using the Word-like design tools in SharePoint Online to get a nice-looking web site going, something that many small companies struggle with.
- Steve comes back on to make some closing remarks before thanking everyone and walking off to the side. No questions were taken and the nice marketing person closed the web conference pretty quickly thereafter.
All in all, the event lasted less than 30 minutes so it had the redeeming feature of not taking up too much of anyone’s day.
I found the event moderately interesting because:
- I thought that the focus was very much on the small to medium business (over 1.5 billion users). I think there’s good reason for this as obviously most small businesses would agree with the quote “We didn’t start the business with the dream of running IT and now we don’t have to” from ESL Industries in Wellington, NZ, one of the companies that have been testing Office 365. The attraction of being able to use the same technology that large enterprises enjoy without the overhead of huge IT staffs is something that a small to medium business has got to enjoy. Small companies can move much faster than large companies when it’s time to adopt new technology, so that’s another reason why it’s a good tactic of Microsoft to emphasize this market segment.
- One of the other companies mentioned said that they were going to junk a lot of servers as they moved to Office 365, which may be good for local greenhouse gas production but bad for local sales representatives of server hardware.
- The announcement was made that Microsoft is teaming up with 20 telcos to provide bundled services to businesses. The telcos provide Internet, phone services, devices, and services while Microsoft provides Office 365. Sounds like an excellent way of delivering a complete package to many businesses (and indeed, I have already heard UPC advertise such an offering for Ireland), but it didn’t quite gell with Steve’s assertion that Microsoft needs a strong partner base for Office 365 as many small IT consultancies will not like to see the advance of the telcos to serve customers who might previously have used a consultant to help with email, web site, or sorting out PCs.
- Steve said that Microsoft’s SLA for Office 365 was the “best in the business”… well, maybe, but only if you agree that SLAs should be measured at the boundary of Microsoft’s datacenters. No one can control the Internet and I think that there’s a fair chance that other hosting companies can deliver a better SLA than Microsoft can if the SLA was measured where it matters – when the service is provided to user desktops.
The Office 365 team has blogged about their launch and I am sure that there will be much additional comment over the next few days. In the interim, now that the excitement has passed, we can all get on with other more important things…