Microsoft Office 365 launched in SA

Microsoft has announced the commercial launch of Microsoft Office 365 in South Africa, with prices starting from R46.50 per user per month.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud productivity software for businesses.

Microsoft’s Melanie Botha says cloud-based solutions like Office 365 can help businesses lower capital expenditure costs and deliver powerful productivity tools to its users, with appropriate layers of security and compliance.

Botha believes Office 365’s availability on a month-to-month basis will be a boon for SMEs. The subscription includes online versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync, promising to deliver e-mail, document management and unified communication services to business of all sizes. Certain subscription plans also add Office Pro Plus to deliver offline capability in Word, Excel, Outlook and other Office desktop products.

Technology industry analyst Arthur Goldstuck says SMEs and startups have the most to gain from cloud solutions like Office 365, as they do not need to invest heavily in infrastructure. His research suggests that only 9% of South African SMEs are currently using cloud computing in their businesses, but those that do are more profitable than their less tech-savvy counterparts.

“Cloud computing offers more benefits than drawbacks to SMEs, yet a lack of understanding of these benefits means uptake continues to be slow. Despite this, there is a clear edge for those who do make use of it; after all, cloud computing is an enormous cost saver to any business, and cutting costs is a key element of profitability,” said Goldstuck.

Microsoft’s Botha added that the current healthy state of South African bandwidth means the timing of Office 365 is ideal. “South Africa’s broadband provision has improved dramatically in recent years. Office 365 also enables economical use of bandwidth resources, leveraging innovation in the latest version of Office platform.”

Previously available on a trial basis in markets, Office 365 is now commercially available. Businesses can try it for free for 30 days by signing up on the website. Microsoft said that there are already over 150 local Microsoft partners who are certified and able to advise their customers on how to evaluate and purchase the service.

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Microsoft Office 365 launched in SA