MVPs for Office 365: Microsoft Demonstrates Commitment to Service Updates


Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Office 365 MVP Brett Hill as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Office 365" series. Brett is a newly awarded Office
365 MVP.  He spends a lot of time at where he’s building out content on Office 365 and BPOS  including an
Office 365 Newsletter. Before starting his own business, he
worked on the BPOS / Office 365 team as a program manager for Partner technical
readiness.  His  recent work in includes several Office 365 service
descriptions,  Office 365 Identity, end user training, and Microsoft
Online Trial Guide and 20 webcasts on the Microsoft Online team blog.   

has announced the updated services platform, Office 365, should be available
this calendar year. Even so, with the recently announced
2011 Service Updates
they continue to update the existing platform, Business
Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) with additional features. 

gets my attention for a couple of reasons.  When Microsoft told the world
details about Office 365 in Nov 2010, they essentially turned up the heat on
themselves to get the services out. As a result, you might expect that with the
complexity of the services and intensified importance to offer them
commercially, that all resources would be focused on Office 365 rather than
BPOS.  Releasing new features for BPOS while driving toward Office 365 is
very encouraging as it tells me that Microsoft is still committed to improving
the services for existing and new customers.

reason this is interesting is Microsoft doesn’t have to do this. When you sign
up for BPOS, Microsoft doesn’t commit contractually to providing updates to the
services – but they have.  In fact, if you look at what they’ve added
since the services were released, it’s pretty impressive.  Here’s a sample
of features that are available now that were not available when the services
were first released – and the price did NOT go up. (When was the last time you
had a service that improved and didn’t charge more?)


· 25 GB Exchange Mailbox by default


· Increase attachment size from 20MB to 30 MB


· Allow 250 anonymous users per Live Meeting (up from 15)


· Max file size increased to 250MB for SharePoint Online


· Max number of SharePoint site collection increased from 20 to 100


· Support for up to 30,000 users in the Admin Console


· Management of Users with Different UPN and SMTP Address


· Updated Live Meeting client and Outlook plug in


· Support added for Outlook 2003


· Sign on Client for Mac


· Partner name on Invoicing


· SharePoint Auditing Enabled


· New countries and languages supported


· User configurable Mailbox Access Permissions with Powershell


· User administration with Powershell (create, license, change password, etc)


· SMTP Relay supported


· Support for external journaling services by Exchange Online


· Hosted Blackberry Administration Center added


To be fair, it’s pretty clear that Microsoft
is not doing this entirely because they are simply being gracious.  You
can imagine how this goes. Updates like Blackberry support and Outlook 2003
make the list as they are driven by customer requirements.  Features like
adding Powershell commands probably reduce support calls as well as enable
partners and customers to automate features.  Features like increasing the
number of users from 15 to 250 per Live Meeting event? I still can’t get over
that value and have no clue what drove the decision  - but that capability
alone is well worth the $10 per month.

The point is that with the most recent service
updates for BPOS, Microsoft is saying they are continuing to improve BPOS for
customers even though they are moving full speed ahead on Office 365.  To
me, that’s evidence that Microsoft is serious about this business and bodes
well for not only current and future BPOS customers, but Microsoft as a whole
as they move more and more business to an online model.


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