How Microsoft Exchange Online beta doing?

It is true that delivering a feature-rich messaging service is becoming a challenge, and regulatory requirements are getting more complex. These challenges are aftermath when Messaging services turned out to be a mission critical in the business.

Recently, when HP finished EDS acquisition, all the 150K employees in EDS got partial transition to HP’s messaging service by having email address to all EDS employees. This kind of changes have to be done in real quick; these days, merger and acquisition activities demands quick adjustment in these type of service capacity. Right technical expertise is in high demand for making this kind of drastic change.

What Microsoft does to change the “buy versus build” economics?

Microsoft Exchange Online offer a hosted enterprise messaging solution at remote site based on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Microsoft can leverage solution with in-depth knowledge in its own products, best practices they developed among its customers and partners, and experience from operating Microsoft’s internal corporate messaging to deliver a world-class, mission critical service. As far as users are concerned, applications offer greater level of end user experience and Microsoft’s hosted Exchange infrastructure is easy to configure, maintain and use without the need of complex backend servers and integration expertise, however this whole system of exchange hosting is done with tight integration of Windows.

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned about one of the growing service models – Software plus Service (S+S). According that post in brief, “Industry is now watching the progress at Software + Services (S+S) model whereby providers extend the existing model to fulfil customer’s next level demand on total business solutions as well as enhance the end user experience. This certainly needs a high level integration of enterprise, desktop and web based applications, taking the Exchange Hosting Provider to next level, “Software + Services” (S+S).” Yes, Microsoft is preparing to spearhead an already-crowded ring of hosted Exchange providers with S+S approach.

As a matter of fact, Microsoft has to compete with its own partners to win the market. In Microsoft, its Web site lists large number of hosted Exchange providers operating in US and other part of the world. Microsoft also realizes that hosting business huge which involves multitenant and its respective software services which seems to be showing drastic difference as compare to building on-premises software; Let’s wait and see how Microsoft ride on this hosting market. There are few pilot testers whom I know says Microsoft’s Exchange Online is good and can compete in the market.

Few firms from my known circle have been already trying this out on beta, of Microsoft Exchange Online and found the service easy to configure, maintain and use. Other than few bugs, the service is all set to go live. As some of you are aware, on-premises and most third-party exchange hosting providers offer wide range of client support, namely POP3, IMAP and LDAP protocols, but Exchange Online offers only the native and proprietary MAPI (Messaging API) protocol using Outlook 2007. The service is accessible through the Web with Outlook Web Access, but the full-featured version of OWA requires Internet Explorer 7.

To make more sense on the S+S service, Exchange Online also support for mobile devices running Windows Mobile 6.1, the ActiveSync-enabled iPhone 2.0, etc. However, when it comes to more device coverage, you will still see better service and offering from third-party Exchange providers in the market.

What’s the price?

Pricing for the service starts at $10 per user, per month for a typical account or $2 per user, per month for a Deskless Worker account that’s only accessible through OWA. Both account types come with a 1GB mailbox size. The $10 per month account does not include an Outlook 2007 license.

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