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  1. Technology
March 2, 2009

Microsoft announces BPOS cloud platform

Launches hosted Office apps

By Steve Evans

Microsoft has announced that it will offer online versions of some of its Office applications via a platform called Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

The BPOS is broken down into Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communication Online. Customers will be able to pick and choose which services they require depending on their needs, Microsoft said.

Users will be able to pay a monthly subscription for the hosted services.

The platform will be available to organisations in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

Speaking to CBR about the launch, Gill Le Fevre, UK BPOS marketing manager, Microsoft, said that the suite was the first time Microsoft had released these products together via a hosted environment.

She added that the structure of the platform would offer businesses flexibility to use the services that they need, with Microsoft providing the hosted services and management.

Le Fevre also told CBR about the new Deskless Worker Suite, containing Exchange and SharePoint Deskless Worker. “It is aimed at workers whose day to day job does not revolve around a PC,” Le Fevre said. “Users will be able to access their email through a web browser on a shared PC.”

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Microsoft has released details of two clients that have signed up for the trial: pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSM) and employment specialists The Wise Group.

The Wise Group is looking to migrate their email, IM, portal, collaboration and CRM capabilities from an internally-hosted environment onto a cloud-hosted, Microsoft platform.

Alan Lee-Bourke, head of ICT, The Wise Group, told CBR that the company had been trialling the system for a while. “We have about 20 users at the moment and will eventually roll it out for 500 users across the business. We wanted to reduce the overheads associated with fiddling with wires and boxes, and outsourcing proved to be the cheaper way of doing it,” Lee-Bourke said.

As well as reducing costs, Lee-Bourke said that the platform will enable workers at The Wise Group to devote more time to the business-critical aspects of their job.

Microsoft has released details of the pricing structure for the services. The Deskless Worker Suite costs £2.01 per user per month, which includes a 25% discount for signing up to the entire suite. BPOS £10.04 per user per month, which includes a 38% discount for using the full service.

Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, said: “Microsoft Online Services open up new possibilities for businesses to control costs and do more with less without impacting the productivity of their employees. We expect customers to save between 10% and 50% in IT-related expenditures as a result of deploying this suite.”

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