Office 365, the next major update to Microsoft Online Services, was announced yesterday.  Office 365 includes new cloud-based versions of SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online (each based on the 2010 versions of those servers) as well as Office Professional Plus 2010 as a subscription.

You can watch a recording of the Office 365 announcement online now.

What does this mean to developers?

Skills Reuse:  With Office 365, you are going to be able to reuse your skills writing SharePoint/Exchange/Lync solutions using Visual Studio 2010.  While there isn’t 100% feature parity between on-premises and online versions of those servers, which will require some re-tooling of your skills, a majority of what you know will apply to Office 365 solution development.  Skills reuse is always a good thing, especially when it prepares you for the next big thing in software development, the cloud. 

A Larger Audience for Your Solutions: With Office 365, you’re going to be able to reach more customers with your solution or services. For example, let’s say you build packaged software or provide custom development services for SharePoint. Before Office 365, the companies you could sell that solution or services to were limited to those that had the resources for the staff, hardware and maintenance required to run SharePoint on-premises. For some small to medium size companies, that requirement priced them out of your solution or services.  With Office 365 for Small Business priced at $6/user/month for up to 50 users and Office 365 for Enterprises at $10/user/month ($24/user/month if you include Office Professional Plus), you can see the potential for a lot more companies in the market for SharePoint solutions and or customization services.

Office 365 is a great opportunity for developers to reuse their skills building SharePoint/Exchange/Lync solutions using Visual Studio 2010 in the cloud while being able to reach a much larger audience with their solution or services.

Sounds like a great opportunity for us as developers.