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Microsoft Releases Office 365 for Business with New Enterprise Tools

Microsoft launched its Home Premium version of Office 365 about one month ago, and now the company is unleashing a new edition tailored to business users. Announced today, this iteration of Office 365 will come with specific features for small and large-sized organizations.

“With Office 365, everyone from large enterprises to individual consumers can now benefit from the power of Office and the connectivity of the cloud,” Kurt DelBene, Microsoft Office Division President, said in a statement on Wednesday. “This release unlocks new scenarios and delivers capabilities that far surpass anything available in browser-only solutions.”

This enterprise edition of Office, which is now available worldwide, comes in two distinct flavors: Office 365 Midsize Business and Office 365 Small Business Premium.  At the crux of the midsize versions is Microsoft’s new Office 356 Pro Plus service, which allows users to register the software on up to five devices at a time. This means that Office 365 users can sign in to the software from any device and view their documents and data no matter where they are.

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The package offers applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath and Access all as one seamless service. Additionally, IT departments can run Office 365 alongside other versions of Office to streamline and easily manage updates for employees.

This midsize business edition of Office 365 is designed for companies with 10 to 250 workers, Microsoft says.  In addition to Office 365 ProPlus, the software includes Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online as well as simplified tools catered to IT departments. Microsoft is also throwing in Active Directory Integration, a Web-based administration console that also includes business-hours phone support. Office 365 Midsize Business sells for $180 per year, which is the equivalent of $15 monthly.

Users who don’t want to drop $180 can opt to purchase Office 365 ProPlus as a standalone package for $144 annually.

For companies working with 10 employees or less, Microsoft has just released Office 365 Small Business Premium. It comes with Microsoft’s suite of Office applications as well as business-grade email, shared calendars, HD videoconferencing capabilities and website tools. Microsoft touts its small business package as a service that is self-manageable and does not require IT experience. It doesn’t come with Office 365 ProPlus, but pricing is $150 per user for an annual subscription.

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Users can begin purchasing these enterprise-themed editions of Office beginning today by visiting Microsoft’s official Office website here. Microsoft also offers free trials of the software as well.

We loved the way Microsoft revamped its home version of Office 365, giving it a four-star rating as a productivity suite. We found that Microsoft’s new subscription plan and integrated social-networking tools enriched the home Office experience, but wish that the software supported multi-window functionality and better touch-screen controls.