Office 365 General Availability Set for June 28

Office 365, the successor to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite with desktop productivity functionality added, will be generally available June 28, according to a senior Microsoft executive's Twitter announcement Friday morning.

"June 28th is the date for General Availability of Office 365! > 100,000 real customers on beta...Partners, are you ready???" wrote Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group.

On May 26, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a conference audience in New Delhi, India, that Office 365 would be coming in June, but he didn't offer a specific date and a Microsoft spokesperson had declined to confirm that the suite would even ship that month. Throwing the date further into question was an incident around the same time when Microsoft had walked back a Ballmer comment about a ship date for Windows 8 in 2012.

"We're pushing hard in the productivity space," Ballmer had said in New Delhi. "We'll launch our Office 365 cloud service, which gives you Lync and Exchange and SharePoint and Office and more as a subscribable service that comes from the cloud. That launches in the month of June."

The release of Office 365 has been hotly anticipated by Microsoft partners, who earn advisor fees for BPOS sales as Partners of Record.

Ulises Aguilar Nahle, past president of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, responded to Roskill's tweet with one of his own: "M'Ready."

"I hope they are ready!" said Chad Mosman, founder of MessageOps in an e-mail interview. "I’ve never seen so much pent-up demand for a Microsoft release. We have clients running their production environment on the beta, which tells you how anxious people are to start taking advantage of the new features and functionality. All the feedback we’ve heard from our clients has been positive, so I have little doubt this is going to be a huge win for Microsoft and make them the clear leader in online productivity."

Office 365 went into open beta in April and partners have been able to sign customers onto the beta and name themselves Partners of Record already. One issue many channel partners hope will be resolved in the Office 365 release timeframe will be the ability to bill customers directly. Currently, Microsoft bills customers and pays advisor fees back to partners.

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About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.