Microsoft has claimed that familiarity and compatibility are its key weapons against rival online productivity suites, ahead of its keynote at CeBIT.
Speaking to PC Retail, UK BPOS marketing manager Gill Le Fevre (pictured) said: "Office is pervasive. Almost everyone is familiar with the product, so any roll out of BPOS in a business environment removes the need for long and costly training, not just of the end users but also the IT support staff, as well as any compatibility headaches."
Microsoft made the formal announcement of the global rollout of its online productivity software during its keynote speech at CeBIT. In all, the Business Productive Online Suite – part of Microsoft Online Services – will be available for trial in 19 countries for business of all sizes ahead of its formal launch in April.
The firm has high hopes for the package, especially in the current economic climate. "Microsoft Online Services open up new possibilities for businesses to control costs and do more with less without impacting the productivity of their employees," said president of the Microsoft Business Division, Stephen Elop.
"We expect customers to save between ten and 50 per cent in IT-related expenditures as a result of deploying Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Live Meeting."
The head of ICT at the Wise Group – one of the companies that have been trialling the software in the UK – echoed the savings angle. Alan Lee-Bourke said that the introduction of the software heralded the first time it was realistic that a company could run off thin-clients. "In theory, it would be possible to obsolete thick clients in business environments – after all, if everything is running from the cloud, there isn't really any need for a thick client."
Le Fevre agreed that that was a possibility, but she was keen to stress that there were several places were thick clients were still preferable. "There are different situations where a thick client is preferable to a thin-client, and vice versa. However, the benefit of BPOS over our rivals is that that the client can make that choice and adapt it easily down the line thanks to the compatibility of the two options."