Microsoft has announced that its cloud-computing productivity suite, Office 365, is now available to South African users as a free trial until its commercial launch sometime next year.
A direct competitor of Google’s Docs platform, Office 365 will be priced from R50 to R200 per user per month, depending on the options selected. The cheaper option includes all online functionality, while the top-end offers the ability to download Office 2010 to users’ devices for offline use.
According to TechCentral, Microsoft, Melanie Botha, Microsoft SA’s marketing and operations leader, says Office 365 can be used by any sized business, from those with a handful of employees, right up to multinational enterprises. As it is browser based, and supports all major browsers, including Apple’s Safari, it can be used on most devices.
To trial the service, users can sign up at www.office365.co.za. Microsoft SA says the trial will run for approximately six months, after which users will be given the option to pay to continue using the service. The paid service comes with full functionality and will be payable in local currency, although even after commercial launch, SA users will still be offered a 30-day trial.
After sign-up, users are made administrators and can allocate up to 25 mailboxes, each with 25GB of storage and supporting Microsoft Exchange Online. They also offer a number of collaboration options, including the ability to share contacts, calendars, and documents; participate in video conference calls; and share desktops.
The service is available immediately. There is no confirmation yet from Microsoft SA as to when the service will be commercialised, but it says users of the service will be given fair warning before that happens.