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Small businesses get Microsoft FastTrack for Office 365

Businesses with at least 50 seats will now get access to Microsoft FastTrack for Office 365. The service was previously available to businesses with at least 150 seats.

Microsoft is trying to capture more of the small business market with a new offer that helps companies onboard with Office 365.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it was extending its "FastTrack" service, which provides assistance to customers who move to Office 365, to companies with as few as 50 paying seats. Previously, Microsoft FastTrack was only offered to organizations with more than 150 seats.

Last October, Microsoft FastTrack went from a one-time benefit to an ongoing service. Currently, the Microsoft FastTrack Center is "a team of hundreds of engineers" who provide IT professionals with onboarding help moving a staff to Office 365. This service could be very useful to small businesses that do not have large IT staffs to deploy new technologies.

Microsoft FastTrack can make Office 365 deployment easier

Experts expect this help desk, of sorts, should allow Microsoft to acquire more customers for its cloud-based Office 365 suite, a product that has been heavily marketed by the company in the last year.

"Opening it up to smaller companies should make installation easier for them, especially for those migrating from Exchange," said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research. "Ultimately this will drive greater adoption of Office 365 in the SMB."

There are several reasons vendors pay attention to these smaller customers. Research from the World Bank estimated that SMBs account for 95% of existing businesses in the world, and products and services from these businesses make up about half of the global economy. Additionally, the tech analysis firm Gartner expects the cloud services industry will grow to $244 billion by 2017.

Microsoft FastTrack will help customers who do not have the in-house resources to conduct assessments and implementation, according to Rob Arnold, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.  

"Because SMBs are among the early adopters of cloud services, this offer will help to accelerate Office 365 traction in this sector," Arnold said. "Now SMBs can better plan their deployments, and use the program with the assistance of Microsoft."

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