I admit it; I’m a Microsoft Office Live Small Business fan. It’s like a Version 1 or V1.5 product, BPOS is like Version 2, and Office 365 is like V3. People often say that you should expect Microsoft to have a product down by V3. Office 365 has similar functionality to Office Live Small Business in the Office 365 Small Business edition but with a different interface. Yes, Office Live Small Business has SharePoint Online and Exchange Online functionality – even if no one used it.
We’re testing Office 365 Beta to get familiar with it in advance of its commercial release. Here’s what I wrote in February as the reasoning: << Between Office 365, Intune, and Dynamics CRM Online, you’ll be able to get a business or non-profit of the small size I often work with rigged up for very little money up front. Besides the analysis, customization, and set-up fees, everything can be monthly – Windows, Office, Exchange, SharePoint, conferencing, anti-virus, patching, CRM, and web hosting. Non-profits will be able get most of that for $15 per month per user. This means a really small firm can have systems and tools as good as the big guys without having any servers or one MS Small Business Server. (The MS cloud telephony story isn’t complete, yet. If you want landlines, you may still need a box in the closet.) >>
First test scenario was to start a company fresh; that’s much easier than migrating existing email and website. I set up the Office 365 account, bought and linked a domain, and set up a couple client computers with Exchange, Lync, and upload settings to SharePoint. Client experience has a few too many steps to be idiot proof. Domain mapping also would challenge many non-technical people trying to configure. But it’s pretty smooth for a beta.
Then we plan to set up a test MS Small Business Server. Maybe we’ll add in CRM Online and some Lync on premises for some PBX-free telephony. Next we will do some migrating and hook in a 3rd party hosted website which mimics the scenario where an existing company comes to you with legacy systems (some of which they may want to retain). Then, we may test out Office 365 Enterprise edition. We’ll then customize SharePoint and maybe integrate QuickBooks.