Microsoft Charts Its Software Services Strategy and Road Map for Businesses
Microsoft has laid out the next phase in its strategy for online services, offering a road map for new offerings that synthesize client, server and services software for people and businesses. These offerings will combine elements of client-based programs with software that runs large servers and new services delivered over the Internet.
The offerings announced expand Microsoft's existing portfolio of software plus service solutions — solutions that weave together the best of software and Internet services to provide a new generation of rich, seamless experiences that are personalized, integrated and available online anywhere. This approach gives individuals and organizations greater freedom of choice in how they interact with the people, information and activities they value most.
Microsoft plans to deliver a wide variety of new solutions during the coming months under two key families of service offerings: "Live" and "Online."
"Live" services from Microsoft are designed primarily for individuals, business end-users and virtual work groups. Live offerings span entertainment, communication and productivity. These services emphasize ease of use, simplicity of access and flexibility, and are ideally suited for situations where people either don't have access to professional technical expertise or don't require high levels of system management.
"Online" services are for organizations with more advanced IT needs where power and flexibility are critical. Online services from Microsoft give businesses the ability to control access to data, manage users, apply business and compliance policy, and meet high availability standards while providing performance, scalability, enhanced security, management features and service-level capabilities to support mission-critical applications and systems. Microsoft is providing business customers with the flexibility to choose between traditional on-premise implementations, services hosted by Microsoft partners and now Online services that reside in Microsoft's datacenters.
Microsoft has also unveiled the following:
• Microsoft Office Live Workspace, a new Web-based feature of Microsoft Office that lets people access their documents online and share their work with others;
• Microsoft Exchange Labs, a new research and development program for testing next-generation messaging and unified communications capabilities in high-scale environments;
• Continued customer and partner support for Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM;
• The renaming of the Microsoft Office Live hosted small-business service, a service dedicated to addressing key small-business pain points, including core IT services and sales and marketing services, to Microsoft Office Live Small Business;
• Microsoft BizTalk Services, a building block service that enables developers to rapidly and cost-effectively build composite applications, to help enable greater cost efficiencies and thereby open up new business opportunities for enterprises of all sizes.
Online offerings are now available to any enterprise with 5,000 or more seats and include the following new services:
• Microsoft Exchange Online;
• Microsoft Office SharePoint Online;
• Microsoft Office Communications Online.
The Online services provide businesses and organizations with more time to focus on business-critical projects while working toward meeting their business, compliance and high availability requirements.
Online services will be delivered through Microsoft. Hosted services will be delivered through Microsoft partners as another choice for customers in how they use Microsoft software.
Partners can also add value through subscription fees for solutions built on top of Online services through on-premise integration services and through referral and resell fees.
Office Live Workspace is among the first entries in the new wave of online services. Available at no charge, Office Live Workspace lets people do the following:
• Access documents anywhere. Users can organize documents and projects for work, school and home online, and work on them from almost any computer — even one not connected to the company or school network. They can save more than 1,000 Microsoft Office documents to one place online and access them via the Web.
• Share with others. Users can work collaboratively on a project with others in a password-protected, invitation-only online workspace, helping to eliminate version-control challenges when e-mailing drafts to multiple people. Collaborators who don't have a desktop version of Microsoft Office software can still view and comment on the document in a browser.
• Extend Microsoft Office. Users can easily connect to Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook on their PC via the Web.
Today more than 11,000 customers, including 475,000 users, enjoy the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premise and partner-hosted solutions. A new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM code-named "Titan", which uses a single multitenant code base to deliver on-premise and on-demand deployments, will allow customers to choose the right deployment model for their needs at any point in time.
As part of an early access program that was launched this month, more than 100 customer and partner organizations are already using the new Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM service. Participants in the early access program get a better, more familiar user experience centered on Microsoft Office and Outlook; a lower total cost of ownership compared with traditional on-demand vendors; and the option to switch between on-demand and on-premise models if their business needs change.
As part of Microsoft's software plus services strategy, the company is advancing the way it builds, tests and delivers products to meet the needs of customers. Microsoft has opened Exchange Labs, a new research and development program for testing next-generation messaging and unified communications capabilities in high-scale environments. Initially, the Exchange Labs program will include select universities and school districts. These participating institutions involve high-scale environments where students, faculty, staff and alumni have unique requirements that blend digital work with digital life.
As a generation that uses technology to communicate differently than those before them, this group of users will provide feedback that drives new capabilities to advance the operational efficiency, operational flexibility, anywhere access and advanced protection technologies of Microsoft Exchange Server.
Microsoft has also introduced an update to BizTalk Services, an early-access offering of a next-generation business integration capability, optimized for cross-organizational integration and high scale. BizTalk Services enables companies to interconnect their businesses systems together, with greatly increased simplicity, via identity and network federation technologies. New types of connected applications can be created simply, where before they were impractical or impossible. BizTalk Services is currently supporting developers and applications for testing and evaluation. Microsoft plans to announce plans on pricing and commercial licensing by the end of the year.
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