Microsoft Launches Office 365. Fails.
To much fanfare Microsoft launched its first “cloud” implementation of the Office – the Office 365. Silly name, I know, but I still decided to give it a shot. Call me an optimist, but sometimes I feel there is a chance Microsoft will come out with a product more useful than Xbox 360. For the sake of brevity, let me just say that Office 365 was not that product. I can’t really tell you how good or bad it is, because I never got past the convoluted installation procedure. My many years of experience as a sysadmin did not help.
I am not a Microsoft hater, even though I am a Unix admin. I give credit where credit is due: Xbox 360 is one of my favorite toys. Also, I am running Windows 7 64-bit on one of my laptops and it has been reasonably kind to me. So, knowing how we all hate to read other people’s opinions, here is a series of screenshots documenting my Office 365 experience. With a few brief comments.
You go to portal.microsoftonline.com and – after creating an account – the first step is to install something called Microsoft Lync 2010. The Lync 2010 starts automatically after installation. You enter your sign-in address and it tells you to install some “additional software”. You click on that option and the browser hangs. I was using Firefox 5.0, which, according to Microsoft, is fully compatible with Office 365.
The second step is to “Setup and configure your office desktop”. The installer – setup_en.exe – complains that Lync is still running and must be closed before installation can continue. Then why was it started automatically? Clicking on the “X” button in the Lync window does not close the application, just minimizes it. Right-clicking on the Lync icon in the Windows toolbar and clicking “Close window” does not close it either, as you can see from the screenshots below. The only way to get rid of it is to kill it from the task manager.
After I finally killed Lync, the Office 365 setup continued, but in the middle of the installation spit out this error:
I clicked “Cancel” and the setup… continued. There were a couple of interesting conditions in the service agreement. First, the supposedly “cloud” Office 365 is still only being licensed for one computer. Second, Microsoft’s liability for any loss of data or productivity was limited to the cost of Taco Bell’s nachos Bell Grande. And a coke. Understandably, Microsoft is not entirely certain about reliability of their “cloud” service, but limiting liability to five bucks? Although, in rupees this probably looks more impressive.
In the end, only one of four required components of the Office 365 installed successfully: the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant. At least I could sign in…
Or maybe not…
On the positive note, uninstalling this disaster was easy: just get rid of Lync and the sign-in “assistant”. And, this being Windows and all, a reboot is required.
So there you go: another quality product from the secret labs of Steve Ballmer. I wonder if I could have used Office 365 to send an email to my broker, telling him to buy more Google stock…