Microsoft has opened the tap on its cloud-based Office 365 and is now offering the service as a public beta for anyone to try out. Available in 38 countries and in 17 languages, the new beta follows several months of limited testing among a couple thousand businesses that were able to kick the tires on the service. After the public beta, Office 365 will officially launch later this year.
Microsoft Office 365 Beta
Unveiled last October, Office 365 is Microsoft's attempt to offer businesses a cloud-based alternative to some of its traditional desktop and server products. The service combines Office Web Apps with hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint as well as Microsoft's Lync product, which provides the online communication and collaboration piece.
Office 365 is designed to offer a gamut of features, including document creation and sharing, e-mail, IM, online meetings, and public Web sites. Microsoft is also including protection in the form of its enterprise ForeFront security client and is promising a 99.9 percent uptime for the entire service.
Once it officially launches, Office 365 will be offered as two different plans depending on the size of the company.
Office 365 Marketplace
Also now available as a beta is the Office 365 Marketplace. Designed to supplement Office 365, the marketplace tries to help businesses find apps and services offered by different Microsoft partners.