Microsoft expected to trumpet Office 365 momentum on Tuesday

Microsoft is expected to claim success selling Office 365 to small companies in particular

Microsoft on Tuesday is expected to tout what it considers strong momentum in the adoption of its Office 365 cloud-hosted collaboration and communication suite, particularly among small companies that previously were unable to afford on-premise implementations of Exchange and SharePoint, according to people familiar with the announcement.

It will likely trumpet strong sales of Office 365 among organizations with 50 or fewer employees, a segment that has historically been dominated by Google Apps in the market for cloud-based collaboration and communication suites.

Microsoft may also announce a number of product improvements to Office 365 across the board, including the availability of mobile client software for its Lync Online component, which offers instant messaging, online meetings, audio and video communications, these people said.

The company is also expected to launch tools to simplify and automate Office 365 deployments and migrations, and may announce expansion of the data center infrastructure supporting the product, they said.

Announced in 2010 and launched in June of this year, Office 365 is a major upgrade to its predecessor, the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). In addition to Lync Online, Office 365 also includes hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Office.

Office 365 is considered a stronger competitor than BPOS to Google Apps, which Google has been beefing up in the past two years to make it more attractive for large enterprises.

Two weeks ago, Google hosted about 350 CIOs from around the world in its Atmosphere conference, where it announced a series of improvements to Apps, including around-the-clock phone support for the core components of that suite, like Gmail, Calendar, Sites, Docs, Talk and Video. Google also improved abilities for Apps administrators to manage mobile devices and broadened availability of a cloud-based data analysis service.

Microsoft declined to comment about its plans for Tuesday's announcement.

Juan Carlos Perez covers search, social media, online advertising, e-commerce, web application development, enterprise cloud collaboration suites and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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