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Updated: Microsoft Partners Airtel To Offer Office 365 Suite For Small Businesses; Plans

Update: Airtel has elaborated further on this partnership and on the various plans being offered by the company. The company said, that through this agreement, it plans to bundle the Microsoft 365 suite along with its DSL and Internet Leased Lines offerings for businesses. Interestingly, the company also seems to target freelancers and home office owners along with SMBs through this initiative.

What’s worth noting though that like Microsoft, Airtel has also stayed mum on the pricing and there is no information on the company website as to how much these services would cost.

For New Customers: The company is currently offering various plans to new customers depending on the size of the businesses (freelancers, small business and mid size businesses) and the plans are as follows (pdf):

For Existing Customers: The plans for existing customers (pdf) looks quite similar to the plans offered by Microsoft as stated below. The entry level plan P1 offers 25GB email service, web-based viewing and editing of Microsoft office files for 50 users, along with one hosted intranet website while the top plan E3 offers 25GB email service, web-based viewing and editing of Microsoft office files, subscription to the desktop version of Office Professional Plus 2010 and the ability to create up to 300 intranet websites for companies bigger than 50,000 users.

Earlier: After signing up AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) for its Live@edu solution early this year, it looks like Microsoft is now targeting small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country. The company has tied up with India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel to offer its office productivity suite to these businesses, according to an Economic Times report.

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While the details on the partnership are a bit sparse right now, the report indicates that Microsoft will be hosting its cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 suite which includes Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote, in Bharti Airtel’s data centres and will be offering it to SMBs as a service. We have asked Microsoft India for more details on this partnership and will update the article once we get a response. Update: Microsoft has stated that the service is being hosted and rendered from Microsoft data centers and Airtel is only provisioning the service.

Pricing? There is currently no information on the pricing of this service, the license type (per user or per company) or the license period (weekly, monthly or an yearly basis). Microsoft currently offers various plans for its Office 365 service to businesses, starting with $4 per user per month for only its email service, going up to $6 per user per month for small businesses which entails web-based viewing and editing of Microsoft office files, video conferencing facilities, a team site to share files and its email services, and $20 per user per month for mid size businesses which also includes a desktop subscription of Office Professional Plus 2010 and hosted voicemail support.

Revenue Share or Per license basis? There is also no information on how the partnership works i.e. does Bharti Airtel sell this service to SMBs and pay Microsoft for every license used or whether there is any set revenue share agreement between the both companies?

Microsoft-AICTE Deal: Microsoft had inked a deal with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the governing body for technical education in India to deploy its hosted communication and collaboration service Live@edu, that offers email, Microsoft Office Web Apps, instant messaging and storage, over the next three months to more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes throughout India.

The company said that AICTE also plans to deploy Microsoft Office 365 for education which was launched in June 2012, offering member colleges and institutes access to Microsoft Exchange Online email and calendar, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online and Microsoft Office Professional.

Microsoft had stated that, through this deal it will be able to reach out to more than 7 million students and nearly 500,000 faculty members across AICTE affiliated institutions, making AICTE its largest cloud customer.  The implementation was being managed by Microsoft and a set of Live@edu partners and was expected to be completed by summer 2012.

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Other SME Initiatives: In March 2012, Facebook had partnered with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to extend its global Small and Medium Business (SMB) Boost programme to India, offering Indian SMEs educational resources, tutorials and free advertising on their platform.

Last November, Google had partnered with HostGator to launch a initiative called India Get Your Business Online which offered free websites, domain & hosting services to small medium businesses in India. Under this initiative, Google offered a .in domain name free for 1 year and HostGator offered free support in creating, hosting and managing the website for a period of one year. The company had announced that it intends to enable 500,000 small medium businesses in India get online in next three years through the program.

Google also offers a similar offering through Google Apps for Business and it had stated last year that Google plans to target small and medium businesses in the country to improve the company’s revenues in the enterprise space.

Delhi based classifieds business Getit Infoservices had also partnered with an Israel based website building solution provider WebsPlanet to offer web building tools for small and medium businesses and JustDial had launched a similar initiative in August 2011, partnering with BigRock to offer a website tools suite to SME’s.

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