Cloud Services Roundup: Microsoft Slashes Office 365 Prices and More

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Between Microsoft cutting prices for the Office 365 software-as-a-service suite, an ex-Googler explaining why he left the company (hint: it involves Google+), and Salesforce.com launching new social and site-building services, and more, it was a busy week in cloud services. But isn’t it always? Here’s a roundup.

Microsoft Office 365 Cuts Prices by 20%

Thanks to the cloud’s economies of scale, Microsoft was able to slash prices on Office 365 – which provides customers with cloud-hosted versions of Microsoft Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Office Web Applications – by as much as twenty percent on some SKUs. Courtesy of Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, here’s an handy, easily-readable chart detailing the change:

Also of note: Microsoft is now offering its education-focused A2 service plan to school faculties and staff completely for free after offering students the same for some time. That said, A2 only supports Exchange Online and Lync Online, with the promise that the rest of the Office 365 suite will come this summer.

Microsoft Office 365 considers Google Apps its primary competitor, but this still doesn’t give it a price advantage: Google charges $50/user billed annually or $5/user billed monthly. Of course, Microsoft boasts that it has the technology advantage, and takes any opportunity to take a shot across Google’s bow. Which is a nice segue to…

Why He Left Google

In “Why I Left Google,” a much-discussed article on why he left his position as Google Engineering Director and developer evangelist to join Microsoft as a Partner Development Manager, James Whittaker harshly criticizes the search giant’s newfound focus on social. In the “new” Google, engineering and technology platform development takes a backseat to mining for user data for use in advertising.

“Our advertising revenue gave us the headroom to think, innovate and create. Forums like App Engine, Google Labs and open source served as staging grounds for our inventions. The fact that all this was paid for by a cash machine stuffed full of advertising loot was lost on most of us,” Whittaker writes of Google’s old priorities. But apparently, no longer.

Salesforce.com Rypple and Site.com
I won’t spend too much time on these since we covered them in some depth earlier this week, but Salesforce Rypple leverages the technology it acquired at the end of 2012 to add a gamification layer to the so-called social enterprise, in a direct jab at rival SAP. Meanwhile, Salesforce Site.com is a platform for creating and deploying business websites and pushing content across the entire Salesforce cloud ecosystem and social networking sphere. We also discussed Salesforce’s approach to big data.

Lightning Round