Microsoft Says Some, Not All, BPOS Users To Transition Immediately to Office 365

Microsoft is warning Business Productivity Online Services customers that transitioning to Office 365 may take some time, with some BPOS customers having to wait a year to transition. Even so, starting next month, Microsoft wants BPOS customers to plan their move in order to be ready to migrate over.

The details are spelled out in Microsoft Online Services team blog posts by Michael O'Neill, with details at Microsoft's Office 365 transition center Web portal. There are a couple of handy documents published too, including a FAQ (Word file) and a "Transition Checklist for Administrators" (Word file), which describes steps to take and a rough timeline.

Office 365 represents Microsoft's 2010-branded server technologies, which are hosted in the Internet cloud by Microsoft or its partners. The BPOS product line is the older hosted Microsoft server technologies. Consequently, some client software won't be up for the transition to Office 365, and IT pros subscribing to BPOS will have the responsibility for making sure that their client software is ready for the move.

The main legacy client software programs that won't work with Office 365 are Office 2003, Office Communicator 2007 R2 with Office Communications Online and Internet Explorer 6. Microsoft explains in its FAQ that those programs won't provide a good user experience because of a rearchitected identity solution in Office 365 -- they were designed to only support locally maintained servers.

Current customers are being discouraged from manual moves to Office 365, such as moving to hosted Exchange Server 2010. Doing so will disable e-mail for a 24-hour period. Instead, Microsoft has a schedule outlined for customers that will stretch from September 2011 to September 2012 in which an automated move will take place over several months' time.

Microsoft's FAQ describes how BPOS customers will typically be notified, which will happen in three stages. The first notice will indicate a "be ready" date, specifying that the transition will happen in a matter of weeks. A second notice from Microsoft will define that period of time for the transition to take place. Lastly, an e-mail will be sent that specifies the transition date.

Microsoft's "Transition Checklist" document provides the following table showing the tasks IT pros need to anticipate.




1. Plan and Prepare

Learn about transition and begin planning and preparation activities, including required end-user software changes. Microsoft will contact you to schedule the transition

3-6 months

2. During Transition

Microsoft enables new features and functionality

48 hours
Typically a weekend

3a. Post Transition Configuration

Take care of configuration of end-user computers, mobile devices, server applications, etc. as needed

24-48 hours

3b. New Deployment

Enable and deploy new Office 365 features such as Federated Identity and Rich Co-Existence

1-2 weeks

Table reproduced from the "Transition Checklist for Administrators" document available at the Microsoft Office 365 Transition Center page.

Microsoft's FAQ indicates that BPOS customers "will not have to migrate any data" with the transition to Office 365. All customers will be moved during the year-long transition period, but it will happen in stages, so customers don't get moved at the same time. There's no option to not move to Office 365.

Microsoft recommends that IT pros upgrade existing computers to ensure that the hardware will support the new client software requirements, as described here. Customers should begin upgrading client software "as soon as it is practicable" except for Lync, where Microsoft advises waiting until October, according to the FAQ (no explanation is provided). The free Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit can be used to inventory client software in an environment.

Another caveat for IT pros is that those tapping the hosted Blackberry Enterprise Server service will be dependent on Research In Motion in terms of availability. The FAQ suggests it could be available for transition in "late 2011 or early 2012."

An Online Desktop Setup program run by IT pros will automatically configure computers to use the new Office 365 service. Even though a Sign-In Application will not be required for Office 365, Microsoft warns in its FAQ: "Please do not uninstall the Sign-In Application until 2 weeks after transition." No explanation is provided on that point.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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