Microsoft is ditching their BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services Suite) of products for Office 365 (much better name). Anyone can sign up here for the beta and be able to try out their Exchange Email & Calendar, Office Web apps, the super cool Lync (IM & On-line meetings client) and Sharepoint collaboration. I received my notice earlier this week and promptly signed up. I have 25 licenses to administer in my beta. The beta expires in October, 2011. The web interface has been very snappy and switching in my browser from Outlook to SharePoint was very quick. I was glad to see I could upload a folder of documents into SharePoint and not have to do individual documents. I did see there was a 100 document at a time limit though.
Even though this is called a beta, I believe this is pretty close to being complete. I’ve been reading that existing BPOS customers are in the process of being switched to Office 365, so this beta should be pretty stable.
Signing up and getting my initial email account set up was a snap. It was kind of cool being the one in charge of the email. I set up an account for my daughter, who works with me. We’ll be able to use SharePoint to collaborate and Lync to IM and meet together – either video or just voice – I haven’t used this feature yet, and I’m not sure if all the components are working, but I’ve seen it demonstrated and it’s pretty cool.
You have the option to re-delegate your domain to Office 365. There are extensive instructions on how to do this. For now, I’ve chosen not to do this as they require the small business user to change nameservers over to Microsoft instead of just adding an MX record. I’m not sure if I want to do that or not.
Documentation seems pretty extensive and complete to get users up and running. Besides the help section, there’s a blog, a community forum where questions are answered quickly by Microsoft people and a Wiki too. The searches I’ve done bring results I can use. Sometimes trying to find something in the Microsoft website is futile, but this site seems better.
I have a Windows Phone 7 and I was eager to add my Exchange Outlook to my phone and I wondered if it would be as difficult as it was adding other exchange accounts. I documented the process below – and it was super easy!
Connecting a Windows Phone 7 to Office 365 Exchange Mail
This Resources Section was on the right side of the Home Page. Of course I selected, ‘Connecting a mobile device’.
You’ll see an introductory screen. I clicked on the link ‘ Mobile Phone Setup Wizard’, and got to this screen.
I made the selections as indicated below
Then I followed the instructions below (from the website):
You can set up e-mail on a Windows Phone 7 mobile phone. If you have a different phone, see Mobile Phone Features.
How do I set up Exchange ActiveSync on Windows Phone 7?
- If this is the first e-mail account you’ve set up on the phone, tap the E-mail tile on the phone’s home screen and skip to step 4. If this is not the first e-mail account you’ve set up on the phone, swipe left from the home screen.
- Tap Settings and then tap E-mail and Accounts.
- Tap Add an Account and select Outlook.
- Enter your e-mail address and password and tap Sign In. Windows Phone 7 will try to configure your e-mail account automatically. If configuration completes successfully, skip to step 7.
- If your e-mail account can’t be configured automatically, tap Advanced Setup. You’ll need to enter the following information:
- E-mail address This is your full e-mail access, for example email@example.com.
- Password This is the password for your e-mail account.
- User name This is your full e-mail address, for example firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Domain This is the part of your e-mail address after the @ sign, for example contoso.com.
- Server For instructions for finding your server name, see the Finding the Server Name section below.
- Select the Server requires encrypted (SSL) connection box.
- Tap Sign In.
- Press OK when Exchange ActiveSync asks you if you want to enforce policies on your phone. Policies let you set a password on your mobile phone and use a remote device wipe to clear all data from your mobile phone in case the phone is lost or stolen.
I was really hoping I’d only have to go through step 4. Since I do have a Windows Phone 7, it should be easy, and it was! I hit the connect and it connected and synced up my mail, calendar and contacts.
Importing Contacts Into Office 365
Importing my contacts was the same process as with any Microsoft Outlook product – steps are below (from the website):
- Export the contacts from your other e-mail account to a .csv file. Note where you save the .csv file. See Learn More About Importing Contacts for examples of how to export contacts.
- Sign in to Outlook Web App.
- Go to Contacts, and then click Import in the toolbar. Or, go to Options > My Account > Shortcuts to other things you can do, and then click Import your contacts from an existing email account.
- Enter the path to the .csv file with your contacts, or click Browse to locate your file.
- Click Next.
- Wait while your contacts are imported.
- When the import is complete, click Finish.
For small businesses who don’t want to buy multiple copies of Office, keep them updated or deal with problems that can come up with their staff’s Outlook or other Office Product problems, this may be the way to go. Pricing starts at $6/month/user for the Small Business Product. Enterprise users will pay starting at $10/user/month. Yes, this is your mail ‘in the cloud’, along with your documents in the cloud. You and your staff will be able to securely access mail or make changes to documents from just about anywhere. It’s possible to use Outlook with the desktop Outlook 2007 or 2010 if you prefer that over the web interface.
If you think Office 365 is for you, use the link above to sign up, or perhaps you could use some help determining if it is for your business. Feel free to contact me here on my site or my email address is in the footer.