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back to article Office 365 Microsoft's fastest growing business, ever - Microsoft

Office 365 is the “fastest growing business” in Microsoft’s history, the software giant has claimed. Microsoft reckons it has seen a 150 per cent increase in the number of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) adopting Office 365 in the last year. Windows Azure, the company’s alternative to Amazon’s public cloud, now has …

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How many were sold

in the period compared with what period ?

It would be easy to compare the worst week against the best and come up with growth in the tens of thousands percent if not more.

Such blogs are a total waste of space without figures.

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Anonymous Coward

The fact that

Businesses trust Microsoft and this product amazes me.

They may become so reliant on this that when the prices shoot up, which the will, they will have no choice but to continue.

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Anonymous Coward

I have a Win 7 laptop with a full MS Office 2012 or 2010 suite installed. I can't remember which because I use iWork instead, which now comes free with a new device, and it's a fraction of the cost if you have to buy it. Ok so it doesn't have all the bells and tassels but it works.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The fact that

"Businesses trust Microsoft and this product amazes me."

Yep they do - for good reason - and the product amazes me as well. It's just so well put together and fully featured...

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fuck off

with all this cloudy shit.

well, except for the usefull bits. which doesnt include hosting all my data offsite on some virtual box somewhere being run by some spotty oik.

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JDX
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Re: fuck off

If you must use "Crazy Dave's Discount Cloud Hosting" that's your own fault.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: fuck off

"Crazy Dave's Discount Cloud Hosting"

I thought it was branded as Microsoft Azure these days.

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Re: fuck off

For a lot of small businesses, hosting offsite is the only sensible option. Whether run by a spotty oik or not...

Even if they host the server, most of them aren't capable of running it, so they're going to have some spotty oik from their local IT shop remote desktopping in to set it up and/or fix it.

For our company, as an example, there are 6 of us. The best IT expertise is me. I can keep oru PCs going easily enough. I've got the experience to fix most problems, and usually an idea of what to look for when not. But I'm not qualified to play with servers. Again I've no fear that I couldn't find out a lot of the answers online, or go and do some training. But I'm paid to design and configure water systems, not IT systems. Plus I'd be using those skills so infrequently that I'd be forgetting stuff, almost as fast as I learned it.

For companies of our size, it's simply not sensible to have an IT deparment. But there's a lot of utility to be gained from IT. We can massively improve our marketing, project managent and communications with relatively modest investments in IT. But we're going to be at the mercy of whatever provider we use. However there's no choice in that, it's simply a choice of providers. You can deal with someone local, small and flexible (as we currently do) or go with one of the big boys. Then you're trading better kit and expertise for flexibility, and the chance to do a deal on a handshake.

For the same money we currently pay our local company, we can have Office 365, which gives us hosted Exchange, no need for a server and the latest version of Office - so we never have to buy a license again. Plus we get online document collaboration, One Note and Lync, which may or may not turn out to be useful for us. Of course, the 365 servers have been down a few times, but then so has our local firm. We can live with that.

Compared with a lot of people I know running small businesses, I'm an IT genius (which I'm not btw). If they want anything more complicated than two tin cans connected by a piece of string, then they need decent firms who can tell them what's available, then set everything up for them - with good cloudy comopanies. Hopefully at not too hideous rates. For these people the risk of the cloud provider going kaput, or screwing up, is far less than the risk of themselves forgetting to back up for a year or two. Or doing something unspeakable to their own hardware. Which is where decent resellers could come in, hold their hands and pick the best cloudy options - while making sure they've got some sort of outside back-up and their data isn't held hostage.

The benefits of cloudy CRM, group email / calendaring and accounts software are amazing for a lot of really small companies. But 5 years ago, really hard to achieve for most of them. Now it's amazing what you can have. It's all pretty cheap though, so I'm not sure there's much to excite the resellers.

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re: fuck off

The thing is, office 365 isn't just cloud. it could be simply renting your copy of MS word instead of buying it.

MS have simply done their usual clever trick of renaming all their existing offerings to the new name and claiming huge uptake of the new product, when it's mostly people just using the same technology they had before but under a new name.

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Re: re: fuck off

'Cloudy' software not actually being in the cloud is the norm. That's doubly true with business application. The reason for that is there's another norm at play here. The practice of IT companies to hijack terms & phrases after the general customers have already fixed in their mind what it means. Sure, you bought 'cloud', but here at Globosoft Inc 'cloud' means something different than what most people think.

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Holmes

Re: fuck off

I'm slightly surprised ISP's haven't cottoned-on to the managed service thing. Email is normal, VoIP is fairly common, just add calendaring and a free office suite. They have the low-latency capabilities close to the customer and no need to be nice to MS.

If MS does well with Office365 I suspect we'll see quite a few more attempts to steal that recurring Office license revenue. For the very small corporates who find O365 attractive, OO/LO is probably also sufficient. I wonder if MS is shooting themselves in the foot, putting profits before long-term interests, by losing the Windows desktop management ecosystem in moving the desktop to the network server where Windows faces stronger competition.

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Re: fuck off

"Crazy Dave's Discount Cloud Hosting"?

Is Coulthard doing cloud hosting now? Perhaps his range of colognes isn't doing as well as we thought, and the FIA can't sponsor enough of his pay?

http://sniffpetrol.com/category/crazy-dave/

(safe for work providing you don't have a swear filter - och aye the noo, mofo!)

Steven R

(with thanks to Richard Porter for writing it)

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Re: fuck off

I'm slightly surprised ISP's haven't cottoned-on to the managed service thing.

P. Lee,

I'm not. The ISPs, and mobile network providers too, are well aware that they want to get in on the value of what goes over their networks. They'd love to muscle in on the action, and share some of the moolah. But they just seem to be too incompetent to manage it.

It's such a universal thing, that I guess it must partly be down to the character of the companies. Big Telcos tend to be risk averse and cautious - lest they screw up very expensive and critical infrastructure. Plus full of necessary bean-counters as what they do takes investment over such long periods.

Whereas software companies can be full of fly-by-night chancer types, as software can be relatively quick to develop, the market changes faster, and the overheads are much, much less. So you can ignore the accountants for longer, and let the salesmen, the marketeers or the techies run the company.

\Many people complain about companies run by bean-counters. Often rightly. But of the groups I'd trust less to manage anything than a bean-counter, I'd personally put sales, marketing and techies at the top of the list...

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Re: fuck off

And if you are rural, like we are, with a less than adequate ADSL service, what are you expected to do when BT are looking for a wind-induced line fault? Twiddling thumbs does not keep a business moving.

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Re: fuck off

@Spartacus,

What's so hard about buying a NAS for on-site storage? For a couple grand (less than 3) you could have 10TB of RAID6 storage, and if your paranoid you can buy 2 and sync them. Drobo comes to mind, but there are others that are cheaper or more expensive. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to manage a NAS, not any more than a local tech shop could provide a la cart.

Why would a small business make their entire business dependent on whether or not they have a internet connection. What is so wrong with buying Office off the shelf and keeping with it until it can no longer provide features you might need (which is almost never). Why is spending an ever inflating monthly price only to be left holding nothing the moment the payments end a good thing?

What is a company really worth if the only thing they own are chairs and desks.

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Re: fuck off

MacGyver,

In our case, we have 6 employees. 3 are road-warriors, I'm office based, and 2 work from home. A NAS is therefore no use to us, as well as not being an email/calendar server. It's a perfectly fine option for some small companies who just forget to back up. Although it's no help if there's a lightning strike that kills all the hard disks in the building, or a fire in the office.

As for the price, it's currently going down. Not sure how long that will carry on of course. But most of the cloudy options can be done in-house. They were just too expensive for very small companies with no IT people. OEM Office bought with each new PC is £150-odd a time. Laptops maybe last 4 years if you're lucky. Still cheaper. But by Office 365 I meant the £15 per user per month option, that also gives an Exchange and Lync server, plus document sharing. Not sure how useful Lync will turn out to be. But I'm seriously considering Office 365 at that price.

What is a company really worth if the only thing they own are chairs and desks.

How would our company be any better if we were the chairs, desks and the IT? We're none of those things. We are the company. All the value in the company is our reputation for giving good technical advice in a niche area and our skill and knowledge at doing it. Why we exist is because certain building engineers trust that when they pick up the phone to us, we can solve their technical problems. If that stops, no amount of complicated technology will save us.

I guess our database of contacts is worth something - and putting that in the cloud is a risk. But it has to be internet facing for us to use it, and we've got fewer security skills available to us than Microsoft or Google. And less expertise in backup and recovery.

It's an issue of comparitive risk. Very few companies with less than 20 employees have the ability to do a better job of IT than even a mediocre cloud provider.

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Re: fuck off

And if you are rural, like we are, with a less than adequate ADSL service, what are you expected to do when BT are looking for a wind-induced line fault? Twiddling thumbs does not keep a business moving.

David Goadby,

Local storage. Outlook allows a local copy of all emails on an Exchange server to be stored on the computer. Office 365 allows the option of storing documents on the PC, on Skydrive or both.

Our office network connection is rubbish. High latency and lots of dropped packets. One reason we don't have our server onsite now anyway.

If your network is an issue, get a 4G WiFi router as a backup. No network means no emails anyway, whether you use cloud or not. When the network was down here for 3 days, we just diverted the phones and worked from home. When the network was down at our current IT providers, we did without email. If you can't do without email, and you're a small business, then you're doomed. There is no option you can afford that's robust enough to keep you up 24/7.

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Re: just add calendaring and a free office suite.

For starters, calendaring is actually fairly difficult to do properly. It's one of the things MS actually did well in Exchange. They've switched us to Google services here at work. Their calendar may be fine for personal use, but it's total crap for enterprise because it doesn't have enough granularity.

Once you add the free Office -type app, the ISP is now in the storage business, which probably isn't their strong suit, plus they are now competing directly with big money players like Amazon and IBM who will be more than happy to stomp them out.

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Re: fuck off

@ I ain't Spartacus

We went to 365 with 2 companies I work for and it's the best IT move I ever made. Like you I am very competent in PCs but pretty crap with networks and my day job is not IT. 365 is a great time saver and fantastic ROI.

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Office 365?

Haha, I tried it when some plonker at Barclaycard sent me a form to fill in, in Office 2013 format. Guess what, it wouldn't open the form correctly, I had to download a trial of Office 2013. Genius.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Office 365?

You should have sent it back and said send in another format.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Office 365?

I make all vendors send me forms in pdf or else (I use Libre Office)

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Anonymous Coward

Fish in barrels

Thank god the days are over where Microsoft could push its 'products' onto others. What Office 365 is all about is, we take your customers, you won't sell any more hardware or software or licenses. I bet the partners are just lining up around the block over this one.

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Re: Fish in barrels

It's all getting massively cheaper. At least looking at it, as I do, from the point of view of a company with under 10 employees. Loads of stuff that we couldn't even imagine doing ten years ago is now possible, and easily within our budget. I don't know how this relates to the costs of companies big enough to have IT departments.

It's got to hurt the resellers. Although there could be upsides. The market will get bigger, as smaller companies can now afford stuff. But it's all going to be set-up and hand-holding. And I suspect small businesses are going to be even more cheapskate about paying for IT advice than they previously were about paying for software. Why pay for Office, when you can get some mate to put a pirated copy on your computer, and hope for the best?

But then the cloud providers are going to be hoovering up all the cash. As they're doing all the ongoing maintenance, and presumably as the Cloud software will be permanently kept at the latest version, they'll be no data migration to do. So the only consulting to sell will be whether to move to a new, shinier product - and migrate to another provider.

Plus the boring work of keeping laptops and desktops going. As I say, I don't know the economics for bigger companies. But I guess the cloudy boys will hoover up all the gains as really small businesses start using IT services they previously couldn't even dream of operating.

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Re: Fish in barrels

I'm genuinley interested to know why my comment got downvoted. I admit it's not the most coherent bit of writing I've done, but it mostly agrees with the (upvoted) comment above that the resellers don't look to be getting much advantage from this.

I did point out that there are (or may be) shiny opportunities for really small businesses to get IT they couldn't previously afford. But that doesn't seem controversial either...

I'm confused. A comment often makes far more contribution to an interesting discussion than a vote.

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Re: Fish in barrels

"presumably as the Cloud software will be permanently kept at the latest version, they'll be no data migration to do"

That is a BIG assumption, that there will be no changes in 5-10 years in data format that MS (or whoever) has failed to properly deal with for compatibility. In the past you could keep old PCs/old software versions if you needed to access old data, maybe to export it in another readable format, etc.

The promise is we won't have such silly buggers again, but the jury is still out on that one. So far our experience of "cloud" providers is they bugger around with the software every so often (features removed/changed, menu layouts changed, etc) and you get ZERO choice in the long term but to bend over and take it.

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Re: Fish in barrels

Paul,

I agree with most of that. We've got an online accounts package (not my personal choice), and it changes all the time. Mostly for the better. But I find it a bit of a worry that they play so fast and loose with it.

On the subject of data migration though, there's good money in that for the resellers. And other than moving to a new cloud provider, I can't see much of it happening. Sure features may get dropped, and software will change, but I very much doubt that they'll be orphaning huge chunks of data that have been put on the system. Not unless they go bust anyway.

As an example, I'm told that upgrading from MS Exchange 2003 is really rather difficult, and you're probably better of just setting up from scratch and importing the data in. I'm sure MS will make big changes in various new versions of Exchange, but I can't see them seting up a situation like that again now they're hosting loads of users on Office 365 - or at least if they do, I'd imagine they'll write better migration tools.

Also cloud vendors don't have the same pressure to keep pumping out new versions of the software. Because they're hopeing to move to a nice permanent revenue stream. Of course, this may create the opposite problem. Of stagnation, rather than too much change. But you're less likely to have the issues that often happen now when upgrading software to the newest version. The fact that the vendors are now supporting their own software on a major scale may well improve their whole attitude to testing and upgrading. As firslty, they've got more information on what the customers are doing, and secondly, when the excrement impacts the whirling blades, they'll be on the hook for fixing it.

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Re: Fish in barrels @ I ain't Spartacus

My perspecitive from SME's being sold on cloud is: ACCESS ANYTHING ANYWHERE. Which sound really great right? Until we remever that most companies probably had this ability already and thier staff (if they had any) had little knowledge or support on the matter. On top of it, most SME's run into the "Oh, our data is safe in the cloud" syndrome, when looking at any contract's for cloud service backup services, regional seperation, and archiving are additional costs.

Granted SME's tend to run on a lot of risk that largely they are unaware of, and the big things that work effectively as cloud services (Email, Calandaring, Chat) are a lot less mission critical for SME's since uptime is less of a factor.

I don't know why you where downvoted, but from my perspective (and since we have quite the number BOFH's here) for what most SME's are getting from there cloud solution it's usually missing a shit ton from what BOFH understand should be there.

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Re: Fish in barrels @ I ain't Spartacus

MissingSecurity,

SMEs have to run more risk than large organisations. If we had all the insurance and back-up required to guarantee our existence, we'd be too expensive and go bust. That's life. And the price of flexibility.

I've advised friends who have small companies to go cloudy. Simply because they don't have the skills to manage IT risk, even though they do have the resources. IT is a very useful component that they simply don't understand. So they're better taking the risk that a company staffed by people who do understand some of the issues won't cock up, because they'll assuredly screw something up themselves. In an imperfect world, cloudy solutions are now cheaper than the alternatives for very small companies, and companies that size don't spend more than a few thousand a year on IT.

Obviously the BOFHs will be suspicious of the cloud. It's unlikely to be as flexible as they can be - and it's a threat to their jobs. At least if it's as good as the service they can provide for less cash. It's all going to come down to business size. Watching the idiots at Sainsbury's outsource their stock control IT, and then expensively brining it back in-house being a case in point. Why outsource one of the most vital components of your business? Madness! At least if you can afford the alternative. Our CRM is equally vital to the company now, but we don't have the cash or expertise to run it ourselves. So we'd either have to massively expand the company to be able to split the cost over many more sales people, or accept that we're a niche player - and accept the risk.

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Re: Fish in barrels @ I ain't Spartacus

I'm not your downvoter, but I suspect they are coming from people who think you paint too rosy a scenario for the cloud. I understand what you are saying: from where you sit the risk is equal or better moving to the cloud, you get more services so it looks like a win-win.

But that assumes the costs stay the same or improve over time. It seems short sighted to me. MS have a history of really screwing things up periodically. When you get hit with that in your cloud service, it could cost you your business. If I've got a data server on site, and I have a backup on site with another offsite, I've probably covered my bases well enough for a 6-10 person company. Anything that wipes out both copies of the tape has probably wiped out enough other stuff so my small business is pretty much toast too. Hell, me and the rest of the company might not even be around to worry about it. It doesn't have to be big and/or complicated. Controlling your own data seems to me to be critical. And once you move it to the cloud that is gone.

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Re: Fish in barrels @ I ain't Spartacus

Tom 13,

Paranoia is your friend here. You have to keep an independent copy of your data off the cloud. In case the cloudy people go nuts on you and destroy everything.

So we've got a cloudy accounts package, but I have paper and electronic backups of our VAT returns, invoicing, bank records and receipts. As well as offline backups provided by the cloudy provider should they lose our data but be still up-and-running and able to recover. Depending on how horribly things go wrong, I'm in a position to fix it with from half an hour to a week's work. That's good enough.

With some basic work, it should be possible to ensure similar protection with Office 365. Although it would be nice if all cloud providers would have a system where they would send you (or allow you to download) a backup from their system like our accounts providers do - as it would reassure the paranoid.

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Anonymous Coward

I can guarantee one thing

The cost will only be going up.

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Re: I can guarantee one thing

And the versions that you own will go up even more.

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Re: I can guarantee one thing

I was wondering about that, will people get to keep the version that they train their employee with? For how long? If so, will they continue to "patch" the version each user likes? For how long?

It seems like "cloud" services should really only be a good fit for an extremely small about of people. I mean a really small amount of people, nowhere near the amount I see for the number of times I see the word cloud being thrown around.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can guarantee one thing

"The cost will only be going up."

It's cheaper and more flexible than build your own. The only way the price will go up is if Microsoft eliminate the competition and gain a monopoly. Whilst the product is awesome, I can't see that happening any time soon...

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Universities and campus agreements

Something not mentioned is that in the U.K. at least a University with a campus agreement (that's all of them as far as I can tell) get Office365 thrown in for free. Quite a few have given up on student email at least and stuffed it all into the cloud. Some have pushed all their email into Office365. The value proposition is very very compelling.

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Anonymous Coward

Considering there must be at least a few hunfred million copies of MS Office already out there in the business world right now, I would venture that 1,000 copies a day sounds like utter failure.

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Anonymous Coward

It's 1,000 customers (companies) a day you retard...

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Reply IconIt's 1,000 customers (companies) a day you retard...

...and how many of them have a thousand users, and how many have three?

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Numbers

Say they want 50 million customers worldwide (not unreasonable?) adding 1000 per day means it will take over 130 years. Still, early days.

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Anonymous Coward

"...and how many of them have a thousand users, and how many have three?"

Microsoft's reseller documentation states that the average Office 365 deal size is 141 seats....

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"...and how many of them have a thousand users, and how many have three?"<br>

Microsoft's reseller documentation states that the average Office 365 deal size is 141 seats....

So, accepting Microsoft's estimation of 750million users (up from 500 million) - At this rate, it will take them over 14 years to get everyone to "upgrade"?

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Anonymous Coward

"At this rate, it will take them over 14 years to get everyone to "upgrade"?"

At that rate, yes - but the growth rate is still accelerating....

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I *love* Office 365, it's the first meaningful paradigm shift since my first word processor (WordStar on CP/M). Where's my software? whereever I can log in. Where's my data? Wherever I am. It's the way forward, get on board or get run over!

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Anonymous Coward

Good luck with that when....

1) Your network gets congested to the point where doing anything over it is impossible.

2) Your leccy goes off for days at a time.

3) The NSA snaffles your data simple because you have a name similar to a 'Person of Interest'

4) You forget to pay your annual tithe to the great god Microsoft.

and the obvious

5) You are in a place where there simple isn't a network.

I spent part of 2013 on Kergulen Island. Look for it on an Atlas if you don't know how isolated it is. In places the only network availabel is a Sat Link. If you think I'm going to store data and pay for than a King Cross lady of the night for access to it, you have another thing coming. Being there for 3-4 months means no chance for Office to Phone home thus it will simply stop working.

Leanr to break the 'I'm always connected habbit. It will pay dividends in the long run. With all the forecast 'brown outs' we are going to experience in the next 2-15 years getting any sort of Cloud access will be by more luck than judegment.

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Re: Good luck with that when....

Rubbish. If you're operating somewhere where power or networking is an issue, then the cloud is obviously not a viable solution. If you're an ordinary company operating in an ordinary town - this isn't a problem. If there's no power, computer doesn't work. So network outage isn't an issue.

Office 365 allows local copies of emails and documents on your machine. So network congestion should be no more of an issue, as that email will only be transmitted to your PC once either way. Obviously it's a major problem if you're using it to allow hot-desking...

My company actually has an office with unreliable networking. Cabling in the town centre is old, and fibre upgrades would mean digging up the whole town centre. Our network is too crap to allow us to host the company's server here, as we're a mix of sales, office and home-workers. So cloud with local copies is the best we can manage, whatever we do.

There are many good reasons to be wary and suspicious of cloudy options. It's horses for courses. If national power and network infrastructure become unreliable in a few years (which won't happen because we can always reverse the green taxes and go back to burning coal) - then you've no better chance of running local servers than some datacentre has.

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Microsoft is on a roll at the moment

WinPhone market share flying up, Office 365 is incredibly successful, Azure adoption increasing at exponential rates. The poor old bunch of 'Microsoft are doomed and Linux is the future' commentards on the Reg must be quite upset.

Cue a few down votes and a few '2014 will be the year of Linux as Android is really Linux' type responses.....

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Re: Microsoft is on a roll at the moment

Microsoft is on a roll according to who? Microsoft claimed Windows 8 was a resounding success, but was that true? You are just as well to trust the Iraqi Information Minister for the truth. In fact, could you imagine the Iraqi Information Minister's report on Microsoft's sales?

"Windows 8 is a resounding success! Users love it. How can anyone say it is difficult to use with a mouse or touchpad? Also, Linux is already suffering because of Windows 8. In fact, their programmers are committing suicide. Soon, God willing, all computers will run Windows 8."

"Everybody wants Office 365. The reports that people are only getting it because Office 2013 is too expensive are all lies. LibreOffice is no threat. In fact, Office 365 is our most successful product ever. Except Windows 8 of course. Also, Steve Ballmer, God praise his name, is not leaving Microsoft. Those are all lies."

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Enterprise Use Rights

"Signing up for Office 365 at any price, though, will have seen customers on EAs paying too much at any price.

That’s because those who’d attached an EA to their Office licences were entitled to get a new version of Office rather than starting to pay for Office 365"

Well that depends, signing up for Office 365 E3 gives you Enterprise Use Rights (basically Enterprise CAL's) for your on-premise versions of Exchange, Lync & SharePoint, trust me 3 years of E3 is a lot cheaper than 3 years of buying those individually (even buying one of them).

Also with Office 365 you can have your users install it on 5 devices of their choice (including Home PC's, Android, iPhone, iPad, etc.) this isn't something available with Office 2013.

So yes, we already had licenses for Office 2013, but until we got 365 we were limited on the Exchange and SharePoint features we could use, now we're not.

Although I must admit at the somewhere aback of my mind is the concern that once Microsoft have us hooked on the enterprise features, they're then going to remove the use rights from E3 and force use to either move to the cloud or buy the CAL's.... but they wouldn't do that.... right....

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Its amazing that ANY company would trust MS with their data... Sooner or later, 365 is going to be cloud only... And course, if you don't like a newer version of 365, too bad. While others still continue to use Office2003 or 2000 on todays computers with no problems or re-training. I do like Office 2010, but 2013 is blinding and ugly, not worth the purchase.

So, I still push for other alternative - which of course will not work for everyone because Excel has decades of history and features that are unmatched... but still, for the price - they aren't bad. Open Office is great because its multi-platform compatible (Windows/MAC/Linux) and another is Kingssoft office. It comes in free and $70 pro versions. The UI looks like a cross between Office 2003 & 2010... its pretty slick and very clean interface. Apparently they have been around a long time, but have been buried under MS and Open.

Oh, Kingssoft opens and edits Office 2013 files... works on Windows, Android and Linux. I have only started showing them to friends to try out and see how they like it.

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