Dell has announced that it will start offering Microsoft Office 365 to its SMB customers. Office 365 with Dell will come with Microsoft Outlook desktop software, as well as hosted Exchange, Office Web Apps, SharePoint and Lync access from any Dell device, which includes smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
While the move allows Dell to take advantage of customers who are eyeing the cloud but are unsure of how to proceed, it also serves as a testament to how the cloud can help dramatically lower costs for smaller businesses. Currently offered only in the United States, Microsoft Office for 365 with Dell will be priced at a starting price of $9 per user, per month for the Small Business Plan. The company promised additional pricing options and packages to come soon.
"With the availability of Office 365 to Dell's customers, Dell and Microsoft are enabling SMBs to be more mobile, more secure, and more productive," said Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president, U.S. small and medium businesses and partners for Microsoft, in a press statement. "Dell's ability to help SMBs adopt this cloud-based solution while also facilitating setup and support makes them ideal to sell Office 365."
This report on eWeek sheds more light on the name of the Dell-branded Office 365 plan:
Office 365 for small businesses (Plan Dell P1 Plus) is best for companies with up to 25 employees, while Office 365 midsized business and enterprise plans (Dell E1-4 Plus) fit organizations ranging in size from a single employee to 500 users.
Based on available information, the Dell P1 Plus appears to be similar to the normal Office 365 plan I moved to about a year ago. (You can read up on "A Quick SMB Primer for Microsoft's Office 365" for information pertaining to the various Office 365 plans.) With the price of the standard Office 365 P1 plan costing just $6 per user, per month, Dell's SMB plan is actually $3 more per user, per month.
For the slight price increase, however, Dell says it is extending 24x7 end-user support on "almost any" PC platform. SMBs may not be aware, but the standard Office 365 P1 plan does not come with any phone number to call or even an email address to request for support. For SMBs without dedicated IT staffers or faced with an overwhelmed IT department, being able to call a dedicated helpline is probably worth every additional cent.
Cindy Grogan, executive director of software marketing for Dell, clearly had this in mind when she wrote:
… Microsoft Office 365 with Dell saves customers valuable time and resources by providing access to our trusted 24x7x365 customer support and certified technicians with one common billing platform.
You can read more from the Office 365 with Dell page.