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Microsoft opens Office 365 beta floodgates to the world

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Microsoft Office 365 hit public beta yesterday as Redmond uncorked a marketplace to support the long-gestating cloud-based Office suite.

The public beta pushes the suite out to 38 markets, in 17 languages. It comes in two flavours: small business on a month-to-month deal with "community support", or enterprise with 24x7 admin support, advanced configuration and an annual contract.

According to Microsoft.com, prices start at $6 per user per month. The UK site doesn't mention a price – or indeed the beta program at all.

No cloud effort is worth its salt without an ecosystem, and Microsoft is looking to seed its ecosystem with the launch of the Office 365 Marketplace.

Potential listers will have to promise to provide "unique intellectual property" and all applications are subject to MS evaluation to ensure they add value to customers.

Alternatively, they can offer a professional service – which will mean possessing a number of Microsoft certifications.

Together with the Marketplace's reassuringly corporate focus, that should ensure that the site will be free of the sort of moralistic mucking about that Apple has become involved in with the iTunes store.

The Marketplace promises that listings should be evaluated and on site within a week. Yet there are plenty of companies on there already – though little if anything specific to the UK. ®

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