Microsoft is having flexiable and dynamic approach towards billing method, Must say they are trying to provide you best of the services with best cost available on a given day. Office 365 is heading the market with an approach to capture all possible customers, using MS office 2007 and 2010.
Microsoft Installation disc cost $149 – single one time investment
On the other hand Office 365 is having a continuous billing cycle, per user – per month. Plan E3, which per them is there best plan starts at $24 includes the “full productivity, communication and collaboration tools with the familiar Office suite, including Office Web Apps.” With this users get an access to read, write and modify the documents using Office Apps. Since this for a single user at $24 and for 12 months this will makes it to $288/user + storage cost if data increases from 2GB SharePoint space additional can be purchase at another $2.5/ 1GB.
Office 365 stores document on SharePoint, so anyways no matter which plan you chose, you need to have at least a single user on share point to support the purpose of keeping the document. So Microsoft is selling on SharePoint service under the cover of office365.
Though this comes as a legacy system where Microsoft claim to support office07 and office’10 but its has been seen more in sync with office 10 files, so if you have older version or doc, xml files stored on your system, which you are looking to export to this cloud app you need to have them converted to new version of XML / doc files to be able to sync effortlessly. Also the editing option available online are not so great, with limited tools you might stuck with limited formatting of data, it has been reported complex formatting is trouble since limited editing tools are available at the moment.
The advantage you get with office 365 is that it’s simple click and go, where u don’t have to worry about installation, deployment, patching and maintenance of data. Your data is on a secured platform being backed up on virtual environment at Microsoft cloud. Users can access the data and emails from almost anywhere. Work can always be done on the GO, be it from office or home pc or IPhone or Notepad or blackberry. Office 365 is giving you the capability to create, share and manage the projects online.
With Microsoft technical support issue can be taken care of at quick pace. However at times you end up battling with MS Error Messages , for which they are famous for, like for their real time collaboration being added to office 365, you need to have LYNC installed but that’s not all you would also required to have Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Services client to use it . This creates a bit of fussiness in the mind of the end user. This is where MS lacks behind from its other competitors getting a proper sync done without too many front end hassles.
Though Microsoft offline synchronization of data is their strong point, the ability to sync to your in house SharePoint and exchange services are by far the best and suits to existing SharePoint and exchange users.
In the end I would say office 365 is not the only option,there are others available as well for CLOUD platform.
Example :- GoogleApps , Zoho , Adobe Acrobat.com , BOX, crocdoc thinkfree… etc