About Microsoft’s new Office 365 service, and what it means to small business – Part One

Microsoft Office 365 is Microsoft’s newest entry in the Office series of products.  It is a cloud-based platform, which means that all of the programs are stored and accessible online, rather than being on a local hard drive.

When we say “Office in a Cloud”, the first thing you may think of is simply having the usual Office programs – Excel, Word, etc. – hosted on the web instead of on your hard drive.  While this is the case (though some subscriptions to Microsoft Office 365 allow for hard drive downloads of these basic programs), Office 365 promises to greatly expand on this core functionality to make itself an “all in one” solution to your professional consultancy or small business.

Let’s take a look at what Microsoft Office 365 offers over the traditional versions of the program:

Available anywhere:

As with all cloud programs, one of Office 365’s big “claims to fame” is that you can use its services anywhere – on any of your computers (home or work), your mobile devices, your tablet, and much more.  Rather than having to worry about what files and programs are on which computer, now all of your computers are on exactly the same page with one another.

This also means that your Microsoft Exchange data, including contacts, emails and calendars are also always in sync with one another, no matter what platform you’re viewing them on.

Collaborative access:

Let’s imagine that you have an Excel document you’re working on with other people in your business.  In the past, each person would make changes and then email it along to another – a chain that leads to terrible version control issues, errors, and much more.

With Office 365, users can edit Excel spreadsheets with others in real time.  All changes are tracked and documented, so you can always be sure you’re working on the latest version of the Excel file, every time.