5 New Microsoft Office 365 Features For VARs To Capitalize On

What You Need to Know About The New Office 365

Microsoft launched new versions of its Office 365 productivity suite Wednesday, and announced that it will let partners take control of accounts and billing for the product for the first time. Here's a look at five things you need to know about the new Office 365.

It Comes In Three New Flavors

Microsoft has developed three sizes of Office 365 for businesses, depending on the size of the organization. There's Office 365 ProPlus, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath and Access delivered as a service for up to five devices. Office 365 Midsize Business is designed for businesses with between 10 and 250 employees and includes Office 365 ProPlus along with Active Directory integration, a web-based admin console and phone support. Office 365 Small Business Premium is designed for one to 10 employees and offers Office plus business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD videoconferencing for users that don't require much IT expertise.


Office 365 ProPlus is available as a standalone offering for $144 per user per year and is included with the updated premium Office 365 Enterprise offerings and the new Office 365 Midsize Business, speaking of which, the Office 365 Midsize Business edition costs $180 per user per year, while the Small Business Premium version costs $150 per user per year. Pricing for Office 365 Enterprise versions remain $96 per year for the E1 offering and $240 per month for the E3 offering.

Social Media Components

The new version of Office 365 includes enhanced enterprise social capabilities with SharePoint and Yammer today, and Lync-Skype connectivity for presence, instant messaging and voice by June, according to Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division.

"One thing we see is that workplaces must be increasingly dynamic, helping people quickly make connections to information and each other. That’s why the new Office has social at its core -- with Yammer, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn and SharePoint," DelBene wrote in a blog on Microsoft's Office website. "It's why we've unlocked new communications scenarios with Lync HD multiparty videoconferencing today, and we can imagine a world in the not-too-distant future where Office makes working remotely feel as natural as being in the same room with someone."


25 Seats For Internal Use

Microsoft is offering 25 seats of Office 365 to deploy internally for partners that sign up for the company's Cloud Essentials program. Jon Roskill (pictured), corporate vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, told CRN that Microsoft wants VARs to use it in order to better understand what they're selling. "If they use it, they will be better at promoting it and selling it. We like to say, 'You have to use the cloud to sell the cloud,'" Roskill said.


Increasing Demand

Microsoft said 20 percent of its enterprise business customers have Office 365, up from one in seven customers last year. In addition, the number of SMBs using Office 365 has increased 150 percent in the last 12 months, according to a letter DelBene sent to Microsoft partners. In Microsoft's 2013 fiscal year, the number of active partners selling Office 365 surpassed the number of active partners selling Exchange, according to Microsoft.