What is Office 365?

Office 365 is a suite of hosted versions of Microsoft server software such as Exchange, SharePoint and Lync run from Microsoft's own datacentres. The applications are generally accessed over the Internet using a web browser, although many services can be accessed directly from within Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel and Outlook. There are also many other 'apps' which have been written for mobile devices to enable the best interaction available.

The services are all made available using a subscription model, rather than the traditional purchase of software. This helps keep the up-front costs to a minimum whilst still providing the user with the very latest Enterprise versions of software. Some subscription packages even include a full copy of Microsoft Office 2013, which includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote (and Access in Enterprise subscriptions). Also, since it is a subscription, it allows the latest version to be used at all times on up to 5 devices per user.

Many of you will already have heard of Microsoft Exchange; this is the world leader in business email communications. The version which is provided for Office 365 users gives every user a 50GB mailbox. Since it is hosted in the ‘cloud', it is accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection; on your office computer, your home PC, smart-phone or tablet. The best part is that they are all kept in sync with one another. What you have access to from one device, you have on the others. If you don't have your device with you, it is all available from any web browser too, meaning that you can work anywhere that you have an internet connection.

Lync is an internal organisation instant messaging too, a bit like Skype. It allows everyone in the organisation to communicate quickly by typing, voice or video, as well as allowing them to share desktops and applications over the network, wherever they are. Users can work on a document together or show a presentation directly from their desk.

Arguably the biggest component of the suite is SharePoint 2013. This is a web based portal that allows a business to get organised, share, collaborate, store and find everything easily. In its purest form, it is somewhere to put your documents. Every user has 1TB (yes, one terabyte!) of personal space to store their data, as well as shared space for all users (the amount varies according to subscription). It can be used just like DropBox or Google Docs. Any Office document which you need access to can even be viewed and edited using the new Office Web Apps, which are just like the full Office tools, but accessible from a web browser.

We at Impreza are using all of this ourselves, and are helping businesses move to Office 365 every week. If you have any doubt about the idea of working 'in the cloud' come and have a look for yourself. It really does make sense.

What next?

Are you ready to trial Office 365?

The sign-up is simple enough. You just need your company details and an email address to get started.

Alternatively contact us to get some help in making your decision. There are several options you may need to consider.