By Emeka Aginam
The software giant, Microsoft yesterday brought to the Nigerian market Microsoft Office 365 the company’s next-generation cloud productivity service for businesses of all sizes in Nigeria.
Before now, the software has been previously available on a trial basis in markets across Africa;, including Nigeria which has been very attractive to the software giant.
With the introduction, users, according to the software giant in a statement can try it for free for 30 days by signing up from Microsoft’s 31 leading local Nigerian service providers, which will integrate Office 365 with other offerings and market the service to the hundreds of thousands of small and midsize business customers in Nigeria.
Interestingly, the product brings together Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync Online in an always-up-to-date service, at a predictable monthly cost.
It would be recalled that the service was introduced in limited beta last year with enthusiastic response, particularly among small and midsize businesses.
Over a few months, more than 10,000 organizations around the world, many of which were small and midsize businesses, signed up and began testing Office 365, creating one of Microsoft’s largest global beta programs for businesses.
Excited by the new product, the Emmanuel Onyeje, General Manager, Microsoft Nigeria said that , “Today, we are evolving from the information age to the collaboration age, where the ability to take action on information will set successful businesses apart from the rest,” said Emmanuel Onyeje, General Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, adding that , “Today’s launch of Office 365 in Nigeria will accelerate that evolution by delivering enterprise-grade collaboration for all businesses – large and small.”
According to him, the product moving to the cloud does not require people to change the way they work, explaining that it was based on the familiar, industry-leading productivity tools people know and trust.
“People get new ways to work together, on virtually any device, using the familiar Office applications they already know. In addition, business owners get the reliability, security features and IT controls they need in the cloud” he added.
Also speaking, Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, ATB TechSoft Solutions said that, “We thoroughly evaluated other cloud productivity offerings in the market before choosing Microsoft.
“Office 365 is the right choice to help our company support the way people work today and encourage a more mobile work environment. With the service, we have the added benefit of working together with familiar tools on almost any device and can make quicker decisions when needed.”
However, Microsoft, he added was already building a strong partner ecosystem around Office 365 in Nigeria, which includes new ways of partnering with service providers such as telecommunications and hosting firms. Combined, the partners will integrate Office 365 with their existing services – from Web hosting and internet connections to finance solutions and mobile phone services.
These partners , according to Microsoft would then be able to deliver integrated packages to their customers, creating a one-stop-shop for small and midsize businesses seeking business services.
“When AlliedSoft learned about Office 365, we knew this was the way businesses would work in the future,” said Chuma Chukwujama, Chief Executive Officer, AlliedSoft. “Not only can businesses save money, but our Nigerian customers are going to be able to work together better no matter where they are” he explained.
Office 365 Partners
With Office 365 for small businesses, professionals and small businesses can be up and running with Office Web Apps, Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online and an external website in just 15 minutes, for $6 (U.S.) per user, per month.
Office 365 for enterprises has an array of choices for midsize and large businesses, as well as government organizations, starting for as little as $2 (U.S.) per user, per month for basic email. Office 365 for enterprises also includes the option to purchase Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop software on a pay-as-you-go basis, for the first time.
For $24 (U.S.) per user, per month, organizations can get Office Professional Plus, along with email, voicemail, enterprise social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, videoconferencing, web conferencing, on-premises licenses and 24/7 phone support.