Microsoft Takes SharePoint and Exchange Servers Online

Microsoft's SaaS initiatives gets kickstarted with online betas of Exchange Server 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007.

Today Microsoft announced a new step forward for one of its Software as a Service (SaaS) initiatives, Microsoft Online Services, with online betas of Exchange Server 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007.

SharePoint Online and Exchange Online can be accessed only by companies who register for the online beta.

Redmond announced Microsoft Online Services in September of 2007 for businesses with more than 5,000 users, but now says that the service is open to companies of all sizes. Exchange and SharePoint are the first major Microsoft software releases on the platform, which also offers calendaring, e-mail, Web conferences and other online tools via Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting.

"With Microsoft Online Services, businesses can deploy software as a subscription service, from servers they manage on-site, or a combination of the two, depending on their specific needs," said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in a statement released to the press. "In the future, customers and partners should expect to see this kind of choice and flexibility for all of Microsoft's software and server products."

Companies are able to choose whether they want to use the entire service or buy products a la carte. Subscriptions to Microsoft Online Services also include the server version of the online software purchased, and today Microsoft announced that those with Software Assurance can purchase the user subscriptions to the online service at a discount.

The service is expected to exit the beta stage and go live in the second quarter of this year, the company said.

Microsoft made this announcement days after rumors hit the Web that the company is planning to unveil significant SaaS and cloud computing initiatives during the next few weeks.

More information on Microsoft Online Services can be found here.

Resources for Microsoft partners regarding the service can be found here. According to Microsoft, partners that have signed on to support Microsoft Services Online include Unisys, Atos Origin, BT, Getronics, Evolve Partners and HCL Technologies.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital projects at the company, including launching and running the group's popular virtual summit and Coffee talk series . She an experienced tech journalist (20 years), and before her current position, was the editorial director of the group's sites. A few years ago she gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web browser technology would impact online advertising for publishers. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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