Given that Microsoft is now saying that their focus is on delivering cloud-based offerings first, then the Office 365 Beta should provide hints as to how Office will evolve. My initial conclusion is that the Office 365 product is subsuming a number of existing Office products, whose identities are being eliminated.
In particular, Office 365’s navigation makes no mention of SharePoint or Lync, although it provides features we assume (if you look at the URLs) from these servers.
My primary navigation menu for Office 365 (captured above) has these selections:
- Outlook (which takes me to email)
- Calendar (provided by Outlook.com)
- People (contacts, also provided by Outlook.com)
- Newsfeed (provided by SharePoint.com, a social network site that can also track activities across all of the SharePoint.com-provided features)
- SkyDrive (provided by SharePoint.com, document libraries)
- Sites (provided by SharePoint.com, I have the choice to go to a preconfigured team site or a public website)
There is also no mention of Lync. However, if I click the down-arrow next to my name then I am able to change my presence state (note: this only works when I am looking at my email, probably a bug in the beta).
A few questions come to mind based on this:
- Will the identities of the Office servers (i.e., Lync, SharePoint, and possibly Exchange) will be subsumed into the Office 365 product?
- Some brands stay within Office 365. In particular, Outlook and SkyDrive. Perhaps Yammer becomes the brand that replaces “Newsfeed”?
- How long will it take Microsoft to resolve the inconsistencies in this unified Office experience? For example, contact cards found under the “People” tab do not link to SharePoint profiles. Office 365 has (at least) two contact cards.
- How similar will this experience be to an on-premises installation?
- Will Microsoft provide a unified desktop experience? The Word, Excel, and PowerPoint brands are probably too recognizable to eliminate. Others?
- Will Microsoft merge other capabilities that cross today’s Office Server boundaries? These could include contact information (mentioned above), messages (e.g., unified message store across email, IM, and social network site), or search? Others?
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