With the announcement of Microsoft Office 365, the productivity power of the cloud just got a turbo boost for customers of all sizes. The new service brings familiar applications, including Office desktop software and Office Web Apps, together with SharePoint, Exchange and Lync in the cloud, for the first time.

Office 365 is more than a new brand. It’s a progressive approach to cloud applications,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division. “We designed Office 365 to work for a business of one – or a business of one million and one.

Read the full product release – Microsoft Office 365: The Power to Think Big and Be Small, to Be Big and Act Fast. Microsoft has opened a limited Office 365 beta program in seven languages and thirteen countries and regions around the world, including Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and United States at www.office365.com.

Battle of Goliaths

Microsoft’s launch of the beta version of Office 365 in 13 countries signals a ramping up of its efforts to fend off Google’s cloud-based assault on its Office market. Google Apps offers enterprise customers a full Office-style suite for about USD 50 per employee per year, and a free cut-down version for private users. Microsoft is promising to offer Office 365 – with a broader range of applications than Google offers – to medium and large companies and government organizations for USD 2 to 27 per month. The offer is competitive, especially when you consider that such leasing-style agreements remove the burden of storage, e-mail and support, as well as providing seamless upgrades as and when Microsoft launches them.

Google Cloud Services or Microsoft Cloud Services… Whats your choice?