Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365, is now generally available in China through a partnership between Microsoft and 21Vianet, China’s largest carrier-neutral internet data center services provider.
The Office 365 release includes software such as Microsoft Office, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online, and more niche services like Visio Pro for Office 365 and Project Pro for Office 365.
Last month, Microsoft’s public cloud service Azure became available in China also through a partnership with 21Vianet. China’s Telecommunications Regulations only allow foreign investment in the telecoms sector through a joint venture with a Chinese entity.
Different Office 365 plans are now available including an “Office 365 Home” subscription for 399 yuan (around US$64) per year. Microsoft has also made partnerships to drive more Office 365 users. Broadband provider Hutchison Global Communications, for instance, is providing a free, one-year subscription to Office 365 Home for broadband subscribers in Hong Kong.
Several departments of the Shanghai government are also using Office 365, as well as universities and colleges across China via academic Internet backbone provider CERNET.
Plans to bring Office 365 and Windows Azure services to China had been public since 2012. Having only now come online, Microsoft’s productivity suite is facing a market where competition from free alternatives from Kingsoft and LibreOffice. Still, Office 365 is growing rapidly worldwide, and it offers some cloud and mobile capabilities that differentiate it in the market.
“More than 1 billion people use Office to get things done, and they want to use it on their PCs, smartphones, tablets, and across the web,” stated Qi Lu, EVP of Applications and Services at Microsoft. “Office 365 operated by 21Vianet enables people to use Office on any of their devices. Operated locally in China, Office 365 brings Chinese users a fresh computing experience enabled by the cloud.”