Microsoft announces release date for Office 365

Office 365, Microsoft's much-anticipated online productivity suite, will be available June 28, the company has announced.

In the spirit of the times, the company made the announcement via Twitter. "June 28th is the date for General Availability of Office 365! > 100,000 real customers on beta...Partners, are you ready???" wrote Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group.

On May 26, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a conference audience in New Delhi, India, that Office 365, with desktop productivity functionality added, would be coming in June, but he didn't offer a specific date, and a Microsoft spokesperson had declined to confirm that the suite would even ship that month. Throwing the date further into question was an incident around the same time when Microsoft had walked back a Ballmer comment about a ship date for Windows 8 in 2012.

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

 "I’ve never seen so much pent-up demand for a Microsoft release," Chad Mosman, founder of MessageOps, said in an e-mail interview. "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 the editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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