Most businesses, from the small home-based business to large corporations and everything in between, tend to use Microsoft Office as a part of the operations, and they’ve done so for years. Microsoft has garnered quite a hold over word processing products, spreadsheets, and other essential pieces of software for use in businesses, so much so that the word Office is synonymous with those products, just as the word Photoshop is synonymous with photo editing software.
Recently, other products have been starting to compete with MS Word and the other Office products more than WordPerfect and those old programs ever did. Namely, Google Apps had been giving the Office products a run for their money, and they did this by being simple to use and by being in the cloud so there was no download, and very little cost, even for businesses. Microsoft needed to make changes to their own business, and that’s what the new Microsoft Office really is.
However, those who are thinking about using this service are likely wondering whether it really is going to be worth it for them or not, and whether it is going to change their Office experience in a negative way. Let’s find out whether it is worth your time and money or not.
The Move to the Cloud
More and more software companies are starting to offer cloud services, namely software as a service, to their customers. This is the concept behind Microsoft Office 365. Rather than purchasing a physical disc that contains the software and running it directly from your computer, you are actually utilizing software that’s in the cloud. Even though the delivery method is different, and you will not be using the product running off a CD or installation directly on your computer, the product still has everything that you would expect from Office.
So, instead of buying and installing it via a disk, you can simply buy a code online or offline and get access to the product that way. As you will see, the cloud is providing quite a few different benefits for the end users of the product.
The Advantages of Having an Office in the Cloud
Perhaps the best thing about Microsoft Office 365 is the fact that everything is accessible through multiple interfaces, even when you are mobile. You can use the product through your phone, tablet, Mac and PC. Being able to work on your projects across all of the different devices enables you to increase your productivity. You will have access to all of the different parts of the software that you need, from your documents to calendars, contacts, and more. This means you can get work done at home, or anywhere you might be.
Your information is a part of your account and not merely a part of a single computer. As long as you are on a device that has an Internet connection, you should be able to get onto the program to access your files. This can be quite handy when you are traveling for work.
One of the other things that you will notice about the product is that it really works just like the installed version you know from the past. While the tools in the product are certainly updated, that does not mean that they are going to be more difficult to use, or that they will respond sluggishly. You will still have a quality product, and since you and everyone else in the office is likely familiar with those tools, there is not a large learning curve of trying to learn a new product.
Another one of the benefits you will likely notice, particularly if you have more than just one or two employees, is the reduction of cost and IT service. Since you will not have to install and maintain all of the software locally, it reduces the amount of IT expenditure initially, as well as throughout the life of the product. For those smaller companies that simply can’t afford a traditional IT option, this presents a wonderful alternative. The updates are automatic, and they guarantee that you will have an uptime of 99.9%. This means you will not have to worry about trying to log onto the system one day and find out that you can’t.
In the cloud, sharing is caring! This simply means that many cloud services today allow people to work together on a variety of different projects. Microsoft Office 365 is no different in this respect. It is possible to share calendars, access documents, conference online and more. This lets you and those in your company stay productive, and it is easier than trying to keep track of several different instances of documents and projects.
Products Available Via Microsoft Office 365
Those who worry that they might be missing some of their favorite programs when they go to the cloud should have no fear. When you work with Office 365, you will have access to all of the office applications, including:
Having access to all of these projects ensures that you and everyone else on your team is able to complete those projects quickly and easily, and that you can communicate changes in the project to one another just as quickly.
Options and Prices
Microsoft Office 365 has a number of different options and pricing plans, so you should be able to find something that works for your needs. They offer:
- Office 365 Small Business – $5 per user (max 25) per month. You will have access to Office for smartphones, online versions of Office, business class email, file storage and sharing, unlimited online HD video meetings, and a public website.
- Office 365 Small Business Premium – $12.50 per user (max 25) per month. You will have access to all of the features of the regular Office 365 Small Business, as well as fully installed Office applications on up to 5 PCs or Macs, and Office for tablets.
- Office Midsize Business – $15 per user (max 300) per month. You have access to all of the above, as well as active directory integration, and Yammer Enterprise, a social networking tool.
The latter two options also have a free trial option that you should certainly consider using. This lets you see how everything works, so you can determine whether it is a good fit for your business and whether it works as seamlessly and quickly as you need. Most find that they really see very little difference between their old disc copy and the new cloud version in terms of performance. You should also keep in mind that the pricing can change, so always check the current prices, as well as features, before you choose a tier. Make sure the pricing, as well as the product, is the best option for your company.
Worth the Cost
Overall, the product is great and it is an affordable option for many companies who are looking to upgrade and who want to stay with the Office products they know and love, as well as new companies who are looking for a quality solution. It’s easy to use, offers updates to the features regularly, and is simple to maintain. For many companies, using the cloud is simply the next evolution of Office.