Office 365 offers value, but it’s not Office !

Trick question: when is Office not Office? When it’s Office 365, of course.

On Monday, Microsoft revealed its latest beta version of Office 365. For some small businesses — even some individuals — it may be worth the price.

The first thing you have to understand about Office 365 (info page) is that it isn’t Office. In spite of the name, Office 365 isn’t a new version of Office at all. It’s a rebranding of server services Microsoft has offered for years, with a bit more sizzle and a different marketing slant (and presumably a much larger marketing budget).

The biggest benefit for most people is access to Outlook over a mobile phone or iPad (er, tablet). Yes, you can get e-mail over your phone right now, but with Office 365 you can dig into all of your Outlook stuff directly. If you send a message on your phone, for example, it shows up in the Sent Items folder on your phone, your PC, or your iPad. If you use rules to move mail on your PC, those same rules run when you access mail on your phone. If you move messages into specific folders on your Mac, they appear in those same folders on your iPad.

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