Microsoft Office 365 enters public beta

Microsoft has been testing its Office 365 suit of cloud-based productivity applications with partner businesses since last October, but the company is now throwing to doors open to anyone who wants to give it a whirl. The public beta of Office 365 combined Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online to provide an always-available document and communications system that’s available from anywhere users can connect to the Internet—and the public beta is available in 38 countries and 17 languages for people to try out.

Microsoft Office 365 Web site setup

“We’ve been in the cloud for years supporting large enterprises such as Shell and DuPont, but Office 365 takes that same technology power and delivers it to small businesses,” said Microsoft Office corporate VP Kirk Koenigsbauer, in a statement. “More than 70 percent of the people who signed up for the limited beta were small businesses, so it clearly strikes a chord.”

Aimed primarily at businesses, Office 365 brings together Microsoft’s suite of Office Web Apples with hosted SharePoint and Exchange services to enable collaboration and communication, all held together by Microsoft Lync, which makes sure messages and documents stay up to date and synced across services and users. Office 365 can be used for everything from creating speadsheets, word processor documents, presentations, and public Web sites to email, instant messaging, and online meetings. Microsoft is using its ForeFront security technology to make sure information and materials stored in the service remain secure from prying eyes, and promised Office 365 will have 99.9 percent uptime.

Microsoft will also be running the Office 365 Marketplace, where Microsoft partners will be able to offer supplementary programs and services for sale.

For now, the Office 365 public beta is free to use; once the service launches, Microsoft will be offering the service in two primary packages, one for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and one set of plans for larger enterprises. Small businesses will pay $6 per month per person for Office 365; larger enterprises will pay from $10 to $27 per person per month. Separate plans will be available for educational institutions.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s effort to compete with Google in the cloud-based apps space, and while Microsoft may indeed have been in the cloud “for years” with its larger enterprise customers, Google has been in the cloud-based application service even longer—and has had more time to refine and tool their application offerings without the legacy weight of Microsoft Office. That said, Microsoft Office’s ubiquity in business and corporate environments should be a huge leg up for Microsoft as it tries to convince businesses to subscribe to Office 365—after all, if your business already relies on Microsoft productivity applications, it may not be hard to convince people cloud capabilities will be a good thing.


New Chrome feature aimed at preventing websites from blocking Incognito Mode

A new Chrome feature will prevent websites from blocking Chrome users as they browse using Incognito Mode. The feature is supposed to fix a known loophole that allows websites to detect and block those using Incognito Mode.
Smart Home

Your office is a mess, and it’s making Marie Kondo cry. Here’s how to tidy it up

Here's how to "Marie Kondo" your office. If you've been inspired to remove clutter and create a minimalistic workspace that makes you happy and helps you focus on what matters, then we have ideas that you'll want to try.

Here's our take on the best game-streaming services currently out there

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game streaming services.

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.

Here’s how to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your Xbox One

Online privacy is more important now than it's ever been, and gaming is happening online more than ever before. Here's a quick guide on how to set up a VPN for your Xbox One so you game in safe anonymity.

Need speed? Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon X55, the world’s fastest 5G modem

Qualcomm is preparing for an even faster future: The silicon giant just unveiled a second generation 5G modem for smartphones, promising blistering download speeds as high as 7Gbps.

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…

Luminar’s libraries gain speed, drop need for you to manually import images

Luminar 3 just got a performance boost. Skylum Luminar 3.0.2 has improved speed over December's update, which added the long-promised libraries feature giving editors a Lightroom alternative.

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.