Microsoft has launched its cloud based office solution,Microsoft Office365. The solution has been launched in key African markets including Algeria, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria. The solution which has been available on trial since 2011 is now available to 40 countries globally.

But will the solution be necessary to African market? Will they or should they buy it? I don’t believe that with problems of making on-line payments, the solution will see much local uptake. There will also be a problem of using the cloud based solution which is a response to Google Docs, Zoho Docs and Intermedia’s Office in the cloud.

The cloud offering is also hiding fine prints which limit how many users you can contact in 24 hours. Small businesses are limited to 500 recipients while enterprise clients are limited to 1,500. To upgrade from small business plan to enterprise plan, you will need to cancel the account and open a new one. That is some stress no company want to go through.

Consider that the limitation is not to one message but to a whole account. So if you are a PR company which broadcast messages to media houses, be careful because only 20 messages to at-least 25 journalist will see you hit your limit.

Microsoft online documentation confirms this.

Recipient rate limit: The maximum number of recipients that can receive e-mail messages sent from a single cloud-based mailbox in a 24 hour period.

  • Microsoft [email protected] 500 recipients per day
  • Office 365 for professionals and small businesses 500 recipients per day
  • Office 365 for enterprises 1,500 recipients per day

Now that is some inconvenient for you. Microsoft claims that it is some anti-spam measure. With Intermedia Office in the cloud, they use the same limits used on Gmail, 500 contacts per email. That means that each outgoing email can be sent to a maximum of 500 contacts and after that send another to a maximum of 500 contacts.

Microsoft want to make an impact on the local SMEs but the cost of bandwidth is still beyond the cost of many SMEs. A good dedicated 1Mbps connection cost Ksh 56,000 and upwards on most instances. Consider that Kenya’s internet costs are rated as being among the lowest in the continent. With the Office 365, you should not attempt to use shared connection. You will be fighting your ISP if you dare do so.

Depending on user requirements, Office 365 will cost from Ksh 500 per user per month. More expensive suites have services like Active Directory synchronisation and Sharepoint support and Live Support enabled.