Microsoft has opened its Office 365 cloud suite to a public beta of the service.
The service has been trialled by more than 100,000 companies over the last six months, Microsoft said, but has now been made available to 38 countries ahead of an official launch scheduled for later this year.
Microsoft said it hoped the service would appeal to small businesses that were trying to move to the cloud.
“Office 365 takes that same technology power and delivers it to small businesses,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office Division. “More than 70% of the people who signed up for the limited beta were small businesses.”
Microsoft is taking subscriptions for the service on its Office 365 website and although the company cited several success stories, initial reaction from potential customers was not so positive, thanks to the long wait for account access.
“This is an unacceptably slow service,” Adriaan Breukel on the Office 365 blog, before quoting his notification from Microsoft.
"You will receive an email invitation from us as soon as your account is ready. We anticipate that the average wait for an account is approximately two to four weeks during the beta period."
Microsoft said the delay was due to too much demand, and that companies signing up would be served on a first come, first served basis.