Microsoft has launched a cloud version of Office called 365. It is aimed at small and medium enterprises, and costs between $6 and $27.50 per user per month, depending on the applications and storage requirements.
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Users can access their usual Office applications through a mobile device that supports ActiveSync, such as iPads, smartphones and laptops, Office president Kurt DelBene said.
He estimated customers could save at least 10% over similar in-house facilities, and without as good security. He said it was a perfect solution to companies with from 1 to 25 staff that also needed to set up teams with external partners, such as marketing or new product development.
"Software is usually only 15% of IT budgets," he said. "Now we are in a bigger budget pool because we are running a client's infrastructure. We estimate that with the efficiencies we can bring there should be at least a 10% saving on in-house cost," he said.
The software company is accepting applications for beta testing, with a commercial version expected next year.
For a first take of the announcement see Cliff Saran's blog.