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Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud based product for small businesses. Many are confused by this product offering and its shift to a cloud solution. We’ve had numerous businesses assume that the Microsoft Office applications were somehow a cloud based application. Whereas there will be no need to download or install, but where you can just open your documents completely online.

In fact Microsoft Office 365 has 3 offering where for $12.50 per user / month, you can download Office 2013 desktop version. So what essentially means is you are paying $90 per year for Office 2013. If you use it for 3 years you have just paid $270 which starts to be more expensive then just purchasing it $220 directly and using it for 3 years. One starts to wonder about the advantages of using this online offering.

There are other products you do gain which is the Exchange Online portion. That is probably the most critical and beneficial product. This means instead of getting an in-house Exchange server you can use the cloud base product. It relatively easy to setup and once it is done you can use Outlook 2007 or better to connect to it.

The advantages are great. First there are no concerns about managing your own email system. Any administrative concerns are lessened by having everything work from the cloud. Second there is the advantage of having your email be more “anywhere available.” This means you can take your laptop with Outlook setup and if setup properly should be able to sue it outside the office. Also Microsoft Exchange Online has an Outlook Web Access website that is very helpful. Lastly there are unseen advantages such as antivirus, spam and content filtering for all your emails.

Now that you have your own Exchange setup – the same benefits of having Exchange is also available. This means being able to share calendars and contacts, setup a public folder that can be shared between Outlooks and much more.