Microsoft expands Office 365 reach

Tools

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is expanding the availability of its cloud-based Office 365 software suite to 46 new markets--including the education sector--and 11 additional languages, as part of its efforts to better compete with the likes of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and VMware (NYSE: VMW).

The software giant also is introducing an education edition of Office 365, tailored for campus use and classrooms. The suite--which includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, as well as collaboration and communication apps like Lync, SharePoint and Exchange--is being offered free to students, teachers and faculty.

Microsoft also announced that Lowe's Companies (NYSE: LOW) has signed an agreement to implement Microsoft Office 365 across more than 1,745 stores, 200,000 employees and its corporate offices in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The stores will use the platform for collaboration across stores and employees.

The global expansion takes Microsoft's cloud services to 88 total global markets and expands the total number of languages Office 365 is available in to 32. "We're doubling our global footprint," Kirk Koenigsbauer, who runs Microsoft's Office division, told The Wall Street Journal.

The broader availability of Office 365 is just the latest in the company's cloud focus, having just announced a $1.2 billion offer for Yammer as part of an effort to add more enterprise collaboration and communication tools to its offerings.

For more:
 - see the WSJ story
 - see the Microsoft release

Related stories:
Microsoft to acquire Yammer
Intercall aims 365 integration at small businessesMicrosoft launches Office 365, eyes Skype tie-in