Microsoft Offer Online Productivity Suite to the World
Microsoft made big news when it first announced it was going to offer SharePoint as an online service. As part of an effort to reach new customers and continue to grow revenues, the online service comes in two flavors -- standard and dedicated.

SharePoint Online is part of a greater Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) which also includes Exchange Online, Office Communications Online, Office Live Meeting and the Deskless Worker Suite Online. The BPOS is now available in 19 countries and five languages.

Prior to this announcement, SharePoint Online was only available in the United States. Now countries like New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany and many more can work with SharePoint in a Software as a Subscription service.

Other than making it available to wider audience, no changes have been made to the SharePoint Online service.

SharePoint Online Not For Everyone

While definitely an option for businesses who either don't want the expense and responsibility of an on premise SharePoint deployment or who have an increasingly mobile workforce, this may not be a solution for everyone.

For example, although the standard version of SharePoint online is a SaaS (software as a service) model, it is still unclear how one business is able to customize SharePoint for their particular needs.

As Shawn Shell from CMSWatch points out questions still linger. "how are custom site definitions handled? Can you deploy Web Parts unique to a given customer (an increasingly common case)? What about the 3rd-party add-ons that Redmond now promotes as part of its ecosystem strategy?"

With Microsoft hard at work on the next version of SharePoint -- which is said to be an integral part of Office 14 -- it's likely these questions won't be answered anytime in the near future.

CMSWire signed up for a test account to take SharePoint online for our own testdrive. Expect to read our findings very soon.

You can learn more about SharePoint Online on Microsoft's website. Take a 30-day test drive and see if it's for your business.