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Microsoft is showering Office 365 with upgrades, wider device support and new markets, plus a new Lync app for smartphones is likely to increase its unified communications play.

Bigger, Better, More

Microsoft has just announced that Office 365 is now available in 22 new territories and the cloud-based application suite has been bumped up with a host of new features. The news will likely cement Office 365 as the successor to BPOS with SharePoint, Exchange and full Office functionality for just a few dollars per month.

Microsoft claims eight-times faster adoption of Office 365 than BPOS, and that will only grow with new countries able to make use of it including Argentina, South Africa and Taiwan. While the 30-plus new features coming with the update will help it continue to battle Google's Apps.

Lync'ed to Everyone

To maximize the reach of Office 365, Microsoft also announced (although the news had been widely trailed) Lync for smartphones, including Windows Phone 7.5 devices. This will enable workers to keep in touch with each other via the best method possible, be it email, phone, instant messaging or text.

With Windows 8 likely to help unify Microsoft's cloud offerings with SkyDrive, which also gets new features, and other services, Lync will put Microsoft in plenty of new places to keep enterprise users happy and connected. 

Among the improvements for Lync, Office 365 and SkyDrive are:

  • Windows Phone 7.5 Mango support. Launching now, users can access and update documents in SharePoint Online from anywhere using their Windows Phone.
  • Lync support for Mac, so Apple users can access instant messaging, presence and videoconferencing through Office 365.
  • New SharePoint Business Connectivity Services will allow users to connect to information in their company’s critical third-party applications, such as SAP or a CRM.
  • SkyDrive gets simpler app-centric sharing for Office, powerful file management and easier uploads with HTML5.

All of these features help bring Office 365 to a wider audience, encourage wider take-up and is part of Microsoft's plans to "propel employees to next-generation innovation in productivity technologies, at a very rapid pace." Expect more detail and news of likely iOS and Android Lync support soon.