Planning for General Availability of Office 365

(post courtesy Bryan Petersen)

Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 is the next iteration of Business Productivity and Online Suite (BPOS). Office 365 will connect the Office desktop suite to the cloud-based versions of our next-generation communication and collaboration services. These are Exchange Online 2010, SharePoint Online 2010, and Lync Online.

With the General Availability date of Office 365 fast approaching, it’s important to begin planning for transitions from BPOS to Office 365 and/or moving customers from on-premise environments to “The Cloud”. This blog post will address some key requirements with the Office 365 release that need to be considered during the planning phase. Also provided are key resources that can be referenced during each step.

Think about the lifecycle of a product/service in the following sequence. With this posting we emphasize the Plan phase to help partners streamline those initial conversations with prospective customers, and help eliminate surprises in the phases that follow.


Step 1: Features (Requirements)

A. Walk-thru the Office 365 Service Descriptions with your prospective customer.

A good understanding of what each service provides will allow the customer to know what they’re getting in to with Office 365, as well as provide guidance in helping them make decisions throughout the deployment process.

Office 365 Service Descriptions

Note: The Appendix section at the end of each Service Description provides a feature comparison between on-premise and online.
Note: These are currently in Beta form so some of the details are subject to change.

Business Productivity and Online Suite (BPOS) Service Descriptions
This information is for comparison purposes to Office 365 only.

Note: The Appendix section at the end of each Service Description provides a feature comparison between on-premise and online.

B. Review the System Requirements for Office 365.

Office 365 will present a new set of requirements for those customers moving from on-premise to online or transitioning from BPOS-S to Office 365. Some of the key requirements are as follows, focusing on the systems/software that WILL NOT BE SUPPORTED - I start on the systems/software that will not be supported because those requirements are typically overlooked and are the basis for many of those surprises we’re trying to eliminate.

Not Supported

  • Windows Server 2003 or earlier

  • Microsoft Office 2003

  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
    - Outlook 2003 access via Outlook Anywhere (RPC/HTTP) is not supported.  
    - Outlook 2003 access via POP/IMAP is technically possible but also not supported.
    If customers choose to remain on Outlook 2003 via POP/IMAP, they will not get calendar support, free/busy information, Global Address List, push e-mail, and many other features that are typically essential to the Outlook experience.

    Customers have 12 months to opt in to a platform upgrade of BPOS.  So a customer who is on BPOS Standard and needs Outlook 2003 support could have it for up to 12 months after Office 365 platform upgrade if the customer chooses to stay on the current platform. However, they will not receive the benefits of Office 365.

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE6)
    Internet Explorer 6 will not be supported with the release of Office 365. This could present some application compatibility issues with customers who have developed applications on top of IE6. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the public guidance below for Internet Explorer 6:
    KB Article: Running Multiple Versions of Internet Explorer On Single Operating System is Unsupported

    Solutions for Virtualizing Internet Explorer

    Engage Application Compatibility Factory (ACF). The Application Compatibility Factory (ACF) program is an initiative that teams Microsoft with Service Partners to help customers overcome application compatibility.

    Note: You will need a Connect login to get to this information.

  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007


The complete list of software requirements can be found in the Office 365 online help.

Note: The information is currently for the Office 365 Beta release so is subject to change by General Availability.

Step 2: Pricing

Office 365 pricing and fact sheets are publicly available. They can be found off the primary Office 365 site at

Office 365 for Enterprises -

Office 365 for Small Businesses -

Office 365 for Education -

Step 3: Availability

Office 365 will be generally available in 2011. Expect more communication about Beta plans and General Availability in the weeks to come. The best way to stay in touch is through one/all the following outlets.

Office 365 Blog, Office 365 Facebook , and Office 365 Twitter

If customers are interested in moving Online, but don’t want to wait for Office 365 they can certainly move to BPOS and then transition to Office 365 when the time comes. There is an excellent resource available to users who are currently using BPOS and need to plan for the transition to Office 365. The Office 365 Transition Center:

Step 4: How to Buy

Word on how to buy is just around the corner. Customers should begin conversations with their Microsoft Partner’s for focusing on Steps 1-3.

Step 5: Find a Partner (or how ‘bout, Become a Partner)

Part of the planning portion of the lifecycle is finding a partner, but for this audience I felt information on how to become an Office 365 partner and providing additional partner ready resources was more important.

Please review the Office 365 Partner Program

If you are a Partner, contact Microsoft Partner Technical Services for assistance with planning deployments of Office 365