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BPOS Customers Can't Upgrade to Office 365 Yet

One week after the official launch of Office 365, partners and customers of its predecessor are realizing that they will have to wait three or four months before they can upgrade.

That's the estimate in a document (DOC) posted to the Microsoft Office 365 Transition Center, which states that transition availability for existing Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) customers will be available "roughly" four months after the Office 365 launch.

"This date represents the period when Microsoft will be able to transition most BPOS customers," the document states. "Microsoft will contact you 60 to 90 days prior to a proposed transition date. You can accept the date or request a new one."

A Microsoft spokeswoman acknowledged that BPOS customers will have to wait, but it will more likely be September that the bulk of migrations will begin.

"Microsoft is currently piloting the transition process with a select number of customers to ensure they have the best migration experience for all existing BPOS customers," the spokeswoman said in a prepared statement. "In September 2011, Microsoft will expect to begin broad transitions. There are two main factors in determining migration transition timing -- customers' response to the readiness survey and their technical eligibility."

In some cases, it could be longer, said Pete Zarras, president and CEO of New York-based Cloud Strategies LLC. For example, "anyone with BlackBerry [is] moved to the back of the line," Zarras said, noting Microsoft is waiting for Research In Motion to launch the BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Office 365.

Several partners said they believe it will be more than three months before broad migrations occur. Regardless, some BPOS customers are not pleased. "So for new customers this service available now," one customer posted in a thread on Microsoft's Online Services TechCenter. "For existing no -- we have to wait four months. Thanks Microsoft, it's really clever way to appreciate your long term clients."

Some are threatening more drastic action: "Wow, so I guess the [solution] is to terminate service and sign back up, or maybe just terminate service and go elsewhere," another customer posted.

Indeed, that is what Zarras is considering for one of his customers. "We're contemplating a pretty ugly roll-back of their partially completed BPOS migration to their on-prem Exchange Server, so we can then move them to Office 365 without waiting on the Microsoft migration queue," Zarras said.

Yet for most BPOS customers, the date for migrations shouldn't come as much of a surprise, noted Dave Cutler, general manager of Chicago-based Slalom Consulting. "I've worked with many customers and none have expressed any real concerns about this," Cutler said. "I think it's likely because Microsoft has been pretty open about this with their BPOS customers so it wasn't really a surprise."

Derek Major, CEO of ElegioIT in Calgary says he hasn't heard from Microsoft as to how long it will take before BPOS customers could upgrade, but that customers would be contacted directly by Microsoft individually regarding their specific transitions.

"I have to admit I'm anxious to go live with 365," Major said. But his clients seem OK with the delay; in fact, some are welcoming it. That's because they don't want to have to upgrade their existing Office 2003 desktops to support Office 365, he said.

Chad Mosman, principal consultant at MessageOps said many of his customers are in no rush to go through the migration and are fine waiting.

"Overall, the reaction hasn't been too bad. A fair number of organizations feel like they just migrated and don't want to go through it again. Others don't meet the [minimum] requirements, and still others would rather wait to see how the service performs," Mosman said.  "We do have a couple that want to go right away, but that number is small.  So overall it hasn't been an issue."

Is it an issue for you? Drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/05/2011 at 1:14 PM


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