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Microsoft To Release Office 365 on June 28

Microsoft is expected to release Office 365, the cloud-based successor to its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) with added desktop productivity functionality, on June 28.

On Friday morning, Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, announced on Twitter: "June 28th is the date for General Availability of Office 365! > 100,000 real customers on beta...Partners, are you ready???"

Late last month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a conference audience in New Delhi, India that Office 365 would be released in June, but he did not give a specific date. A Microsoft spokesperson had later declined to confirm that the suite would even ship that month. Throwing Ballmer's announcement further into question was a similar instance a few days prior, in which Microsoft denied Ballmer's comments about a 2012 ship date for Windows 8.

"We're pushing hard in the productivity space," Ballmer had said in New Delhi when he gave the timeframe for Office 365. "We'll launch our Office 365 cloud service, which gives you Lync and Exchange and SharePoint and Office and more as a subscribable service that comes from the cloud. That launches in the month of June."

The release of Office 365 has been hotly anticipated by Microsoft partners, who earn advisor fees for BPOS sales as Partners of Record.

Ulises Aguilar Nahle, past president of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, responded to Roskill's Tweet with one of his own: "M'Ready."

"I hope they are ready!" said Chad Mosman, founder of MessageOps, in an e-mail interview. "I've never seen so much pent-up demand for a Microsoft release. We have clients running their production environment on the beta, which tells you how anxious people are to start taking advantage of the new features and functionality. All the feedback we've heard from our clients has been positive, so I have little doubt this is going to be a huge win for Microsoft and make them the clear leader in online productivity."

Office 365 went into open beta in April and partners have been able to sign customers onto the beta and name themselves Partners of Record already. One issue many channel partners hope will be resolved in the Office 365 release timeframe will be the ability to bill customers directly. Currently, Microsoft bills customers and pays advisor fees back to partners.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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