Starting today, Microsoft is extending the availability of its hosted productivity and collaboration services to 19 additional countries, most of them European but also in some key markets like Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
The company’s Business Productivity Online Suite, part of Online Services, is now available for trial in all of those countries (see below for details) after being made available to U.S. businesses last November, but only up to 20 users. Full commercial availability of BPOS is coming in April.
What does the suite include?
– Exchange Online (messaging service)
– SharePoint Online (intranet / portal solution)
– Office Communications Online (unified communications platform)
– Office Live Meeting (web-based conferencing application)
NetworkWorld offers a good overview of expected pricing in the UK, Europe and Asia based on current U.S. pricing. The suite is now available in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Microsoft also got a big enterprise customer to boast about together with the worldwide release of the services suite: healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline has signed a multi-year contract with the Redmond-based software giant, who will install the Business Productivity Online Suite and the Deskless Worker Suite (a limited suite for workers who only access business services infrequently) on 100,000 desktops worldwide under the agreement. GSK expects to be able to cut IT operational costs by roughly 30% of what they’re spending now.
Slowly but surely, Microsoft is moving its traditionally license-based productivity software online, in an effort to broaden the scope for the most profitable part of its business. It will be interesting to see if and how this will affect the company’s bottom line in the years to come.