Today we announced Office 365, which we believe will define the future of productivity.  Office 365 is a new cloud service from Microsoft that brings enterprise-grade productivity to everyone – helping professionals and smaller organizations get access to enterprise-grade productivity solutions for the first time, and helping larger organizations reduce costs and stay current with the latest innovations more easily.  This is an important announcement for the industry and Microsoft. 

As I mentioned in a prior post, I am a big fan of SharePoint Online and the improvements it has helped to drive into the core SharePoint product. For enterprise customers leveraging SharePoint this is important since Office 365 introduces the SharePoint 2010 capabilities into our cloud offerings. With the Office 365 release you will not only find the 2010 version of SharePoint, but also significant improvements around the features that are available and the level of customization that can be done in both our Standard (multi-tenant) and Dedicated (single tenant) offerings. For example, the introduction of Sandbox Solutions allows you to deploy trusted .NET code into SharePoint in the cloud while still allowing us to maintain the high availability and service level agreements that our customers expect from us.

With Office 365, everything is designed to work together.  Earlier this year, the launch of Office, SharePoint, and Exchange 2010 ushered in the future of productivity.  This is the next step.  Together with Lync (the 2010 version of the product formerly known as Office Communications Server – OCS), these products provide the backbone for the modern business. Customers using these 2010 products are benefiting from productive employees who can work from anywhere, on virtually any device and around the world. What if you are trapped on legacy technology that limits accessibility behind the firewall – have your people been as productive as those using the latest innovations?  Probably not.  Now, you can have it all with Office 365.

The Office 365 beta starts today. Sign up for the beta here. You can also learn more about Office 365 on the new Office 365 blog and at the Microsoft News Center where you can also watch our global press conference announcing the new cloud service. You can also watch some videos on Channel 9.