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AT&T, Microsoft launch joint mobile office suite

AT&T and Microsoft have launched a mobile office suite for small and medium-sized businesses that includes audio calls, video conferencing, Office 365 and tech support.

Microsoft and AT&T have launched a mobile communications and productivity suite for small and medium-sized businesses that includes Office 365, video conferencing and a wireless plan.

The AT&T Mobile Office Suite is available as a monthly subscription that includes AT&T technical support. Pricing was not disclosed.

Microsoft Office 365 competes with Google Apps for Work. Both cloud-based services include productivity tools, instant messaging and Internet-based calling and video conferencing.

Why Microsoft chose AT&T

Microsoft is aligning itself with AT&T to reach the latter company's sizable SMB customer base, IDC analyst Chris Chute said.

"Microsoft's strategy is to proliferate Office 365 as widely as possible to get as many SMBs into their cloud as possible," Chute said. "Volume players like AT&T address that."

While Microsoft has done well in the SMB market, Google has faltered, Chute said. "Google Apps for business has not taken off, especially with larger SMBs in the U.S."

Productivity and collaboration tools in Microsoft Office 365 include Lync Online, Exchange, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneDrive. The cloud-based software would also be available from a personal computer or tablet.

Lync, which will be rebranded as Skype for Business this year, provides voice over IP calling and video conferencing. AT&T is providing the wireless plan and each user gets a single dedicated phone number for voice calling or instant messaging.

Mobile Office is available through AT&T on the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL, the Lumia 830, the Apple iPhone and smartphones running Google Android.

AT&T plans to add audio conferencing to the Lync service later in the year.

"As we listen and learn from our customers, we will continue to enhance the solution with additional capabilities that will make it an even better offer for businesses," Abhi Ingle, senior vice president of big data and advanced solutions at AT&T, said in a blog.

Microsoft and AT&T have worked together on other business services over the last couple of years. In 2013, Microsoft signed a deal that let companies access its Azure cloud-computing service using AT&T's virtual private network.

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Would you be willing to switch to AT&T for a mobile bundle that includes Office 365 and Lync Online?
Our organization will be willing to migrate to the newly launched mobile communication and productivity suite that is fit for businesses like that of our size as they include Office 365, wireless plans as well as video conferencing. They also come with a monthly subscription that is cheaper than what we are paying on our current productivity tools. We anticipate the use of cloud-based services in productivity tools, internet calling as well as internet messaging.
How reliable is the Internet calling?
So far our Internet calling has been highly reliable and helpful. We have been able to save time for workers and money for the company. 
Internet calling is through Lync? Do use SIP trunking underneath?
If I were in a small business, I think it would definitely be worth researching. Offering a mobile suite that provides Office 365, Lync and a wireless plan would need to come at a reasonable rate with sufficient SLAs. If they can do that (and fix Lync’s quirky mobile versions), then I would definitely add them to the short list.
Sure, but they'd have to show me how I'd save time and money making the change. Truth is, I'm perfectly happy with my ad hoc system of making and recording calls, keeping notes and getting transcripts. Yes, my bundle is a bit of a cobbled hodge-podge, but it works.

Can the Office to Lync, uh, link do better for me than I'm doing now? Can I save time or money using it? Can it make my work easier/faster/better? I'd consider the move if only most of those answers come back in the affirmative.
Smart move for both. The issue for AT&T is the same as always - can their reps really sell anything but telco? Only time will tell.
Good point. Compensation is key. Salespeople will sell anything that makes them money.
AT&T is good at finding a pattern that works, and then using it in other areas. A good example is the Digital Life Smart Security and Home Automation package that it offers to its telco customers. They found a niche, addressed it, and made it easy for the customer to purchase and use. This move to join with Microsoft follows much the same pattern, so they should do well with it, especially focusing on small and medium-sized businesses that might not have the infrastructure, know-how or time for an enterprise Office implementation of their own.
I understand the alliance. It make perfect sense. But I have some serious concerns about the implementation.

Skype and other VOIP systems are already brilliant at making my  calls. A host of third-party add-ins allow easy recording. And transcription software (like Dragon) can take my notes for me as I talk. Or I can just open my word processor and type away (driving everyone on the call nuts from the tap-tap-tapping, but that's besides the point.)

So once I'm over the OOH, WHAT A GREAT ALLIANCE stage, I'm left to wonder how they'll make my work faster, easier, better.... And why I'll want to introduce it enterprise-wide.