Microsoft is keeping mostly mum about the content of its announcement around Office 365 next Tuesday, but it is widely believed that the company plans to announce “general availability” of its new cloud computing suite for businesses at a New York event featuring CEO Steve Ballmer.
For its part, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) officially is only saying the event will be “to hear the latest news about Office 365, our next generation cloud productivity service which brings collaboration to everyone,” according to a company spokesperson.
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That’s ignoring a tweet in early June, though, in which Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group Jon Roskill apparently let that cat out of the bag.
“June 28th is the date for General Availability of Office 365! > 100,000 real customers on beta…Partners, are you ready??? Roskill’s tweet said.
While Roskill might as well be the horse’s mouth, however, other observers have come to the same informed decision, including analyst firm Directions on Microsoft, which said Office 365 is “anticipated” to launch on June 18, during a customer telebriefing the firm held on Thursday.
In fact, Office 365, Microsoft’s replacement for its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), has been in widespread beta test since April.
Microsoft first announced Office 365 last October.
The idea behind Office 365 and its predecessor, BPOS, is to provide small, medium, and enterprise-sized businesses with cloud-hosted IT services priced on a subscription basis.
Office 365 will provide customers with online versions of Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, and Lync 2010, along with the Web-based Microsoft Office Web Apps and the ability to license Office 2010 Professional on a per user/per month basis.
However, one drawback of Office 365 is that, by design, the online server applications don’t provide all of the bells and whistles that customer-hosted versions of those applications have. For instance, Exchange Online will only support 25 GB of storage per mailbox.
Among the tradeoffs, though, is dramatically simplified deployment, Wes Miller, research vice president for server applications at Directions on Microsoft, said during the telebriefing.
Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.