Microsoft’s cloud-based communication and collaboration SaaS, the Business Productivity Online Suite, is adopting a new pricing model, adding more storage, and will be available in 15 additional countries and regions. The suite of products, which include Exchange Online (messaging service), SharePoint Online (intranet/portal solution), Live Meeting (web-based conferencing application), Office Communications Online (unified communications platform), will expand the availability of suite to Singapore and with the ability for trials to take place in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania and Taiwan. Commercial availability in India is also expected later this year.
The cost of the suite, which currently has over one million paying users, is being reduced to $10 (U.S.) per user per month, from its former price of $15 per user (thanks to “rapid customer adoption” says Microsoft). The suite is also being updated to increased mailbox storage to 25 GB for users of the standard service.
Microsoft has also added a number of big name clients to its roster of customers using the enterprise suite. New customers include Aon Corporation, Lions Gate Entertainment, McDonald’s and SkyTeam Alliance. Microsoft also got a boost earlier this year when GlaxoSmithKline signed a multi-year contract to use the Business Productivity Online Suite.
Microsoft is steadily moving its productivity software to the cloud, as demand increases for cloud-based online services. We all know that Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie envisions interoperability between the three screens, and cloud computing is a significant part of this strategy. It makes sense for Microsoft to continue to strengthen and broadly distribute its offerings.