Microsoft Launches New Office 365 Option

As the 2012 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference kicked off in Toronto earlier this week (July 8, 2012), enterprise partners of the Redmond-based software giant were greeted with news of a brand-new option for offering Office 365.

Named Office 365 Open, the option allows Microsoft customers to package and sell their own Office 365 suites as direct products rather than simply referring customers back to Microsoft. The change comes on the heels of an announcement from Intermedia earlier this year indicating they had begun offering their own Office 365 package with direct billing.

Office 365 was originally launched by Microsoft last summer as a means of bringing together several of their most well used applications into a single, cloud-based hosted solution. The package includes Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Up till now hosting companies have been paid a commission when new customers signed up, yet Microsoft owned the sale and the customer relations. Now web hosting companies will be able to sell the products on their own and own the customer relationships themselves.

“The Office Division has never been stronger, and our amazing partners are critical to this success,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division. “Office is now used by more than a billion people, and Office 365 is on track to be one of the fastest-growing offers in our history. The investments announced today will fuel even more robust growth ahead.”

Perhaps the biggest selling point for web hosting companies to package and promote their own Office 365 Open suites is the fact that they can make a significantly higher margin through this model. It appears Microsoft has adopted this new approach as a means of further cementing its position as the dominant hosted applications provider for office productivity software.

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