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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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