Over the years Microsoft and others have offered cloud based services, software, data and security that is located on a server somewhere “out there”. In theory you don’t have to worry about updates, security patches and backing up. Such offers include Google Doc’s and Gmail as well as what we are going over here, Microsoft Office 365. In actuality, information gets lost. Not to pass the blame but Google lost over 500,000 peoples data (phone / voice, email, contacts and documents) in May of this year, it happens.
I have been using Google Docs, voice and Gmail for a number of years now and have recently been using Microsoft’s Office 365. Both have benefits and both have downfalls, in this article I wish to cover what I consider the pitfalls of Office 365.
Office 365 comes in a variety of flavors (a link below will take you to their site and offerings); however it boils down to you “renting” Microsoft Office. You don’t own it, so if you stop paying you lose access to all its services and your cloud based documents and email. To me that is a major negative point.
A “feature” provided is that when a new version of Microsoft Office comes out, you get it automatically, whether it is compatible with your documents, database, email, and other people you share those with or not, you get the new version force fed to you. This is not a plus in my book. I have run onto many customers who have had issues when their new computers came with Office 2007 and their old computers had Office 2003. Microsoft did eventually produce a patch so documents could be read both ways, however that took time and business runs at the speed of light, not the speed of Microsoft patches.
Another “feature” is that Microsoft Office is not physically on your computer. Unless you pay for the $24 per month version, you only get Office online. This means that you are required to have internet access in order to open YOUR files or email. Since I just recently visited family in Texas, I was reminded that not everyone has high speed internet, those that do don’t necessarily have a router, let alone a wireless router. This makes accessing your information troublesome at best and more costly and time consuming in the least. A lack of internet connection and the cost of Office 365 does not include your visits to Las Vegas, Seattle et al where hotels want $15 a day for internet access.
You might have heard there are less costly versions, so here is a quick breakdown. For $6 a month, PER USER, you get Office online (NOT on your computer), Email with 25GB of space via an online Exchange email, with 25 MB file size limits (over the internet I would not open a file that big). SharePoint online, Lync online (an instant messaging program), Anti-Virus by Microsoft Forefront FOR THE EMAIL ONLY.
There are $10, $16, $24 and $27 per month, per user solutions available too. You can see them here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/buy-midsize-enterprise.aspx#fbid=f8HMdt-Uq99
Remember, this is for Microsoft Office and an Email Anti-Virus program only, not your operating system, other needed programs or the hardware.
Intel, Microsoft, and the big manufacturers want you (and me) to replace your computer every 36 months. They feel that you should keep the money flowing to them. In many cases they only keep parts in stock for less than 18 months in order to force the end user to replace rather than repair a computer. Microsoft has repeatedly published that their goal is to come out with a new version of their program (whichever that program happens to be) every two years. Think of Vista to Windows 7, now it will be Windows 8, just two short years after 7 was released, the same is true for Microsoft Office.
Let’s go to the math of what is going on, $24 per month per user for Office 365 times 36 months (if you replace your computer every three years) = $864 just for Office 365. Microsoft Office Professional was only $499.99 retail (IFix Computers charged $469) and Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business (Which meets the needs of 90% or more of our customers) is only $299.
We sell ESET for $59.99 for a two year subscription and renewals for additional two years are $49.99 each. This covers the entire computer, not just email.
Lync online can be replaced by a number if instant message programs that are free (Yahoo!) or more private and secure such as MessagePal and even Skype, so there is no or minimal cost there.
Purchasing the OEM versions from a company such as IFix Computers for 3 years would be $299 for Office and roughly $85 for the antivirus (broken down from a 4 year cost). OEM versions must come installed on a new computer, retail versions cost more and are available.
Let’s See, $864 or $384, the math seems simple to me. Even if you use the full version of Office $469 plus the anti-virus you are still way ahead of the game.
A new computer from IFix with Office is under $999 with Office Home and Business, ESET, Windows 7 Professional and a three year manufacturer defect warranty.
Take into consideration the number of businesses that wait 5 years before replacing a computer (which is a very bad idea due to the cost of maintaining) and you will see a bigger financial difference.
Another issue I have run into is opening large files over the internet. This is time consuming and bandwidth eating. If you have hiccups in the internet you will lose connection and most of the time your changes and maybe the entire document you had open and if you had multiple documents open, like most end users, the mess can be astounding.
Other issues such as people in your office using Pandora, will slow your internet connection and your productivity. IFix Computers can overcome some if that with a SonicWall router that blocks or limits some programs access or speed to the internet such as Pandora and YouTube but there are consequences to this too.
As a Microsoft Small Business Partner, you might ask why I am writing such an article, exposing something that will offend Microsoft, well the answer is simple, I am in this business for the customer, not for any other reason, I want to support the end user to the best of my ability plain and simple. If that offends some, then I apologize but my drive is “service” and at my company (IFix Computers Inc) that is the way we will operate as long as I am an owner.
In my next article I will review the Microsoft Intune program, a program that uses Windows 7, cloud services (there is that word again), Cloud PC management, and we will learn just how it benefits Microsoft but not you or your business.
Until we meet again, have a virus free week!