An analyst who has been playing with Microsoft's Office 365 has said that the system is not ready to come out of beta yet.
CEO Steve Ballmer has told the world+dog that the service will launch this month and is currently drafting a speech about the service's future on June 28.
Paul Burns of Neovise told Reseller that although he was a big fan of Office 365, and thinks it will do very well, he would be surprised if it was ready by June.
Burns uses Office 365 beta for himself and five part-time employees, and plans to continue using the service at the small-business rate of $6 per person per month once it becomes generally available.
He said that there are important features missing from Office 365 including the ability to import contacts from an Outlook client into a shared global address list that can be accessed by all employees through an Exchange server.
Microsoft insists that Office 365 customers to either manually enter each email address one by one, or use PowerShell. But PowerShell requires users to work in a command-line interface, and small-business users don't really have the time for that.
Microsoft insists that it provides tools to small businesses to migrate users and mailboxes from other services, however its dependence on something as user friendly as a piranha does make one wonder how ready the software is for the mainstream.
Generally the feeling is that Office 365 is good but it could be stuffed up if holes like this are not fixed in time.
For example while Office 365 lets you connect to up to five POP or IMAP email accounts, it only checks the extra accounts once an hour by default. Checking them manually requires a couple of steps.
Waiting an hour before connected mail accounts will be checked is pretty silly particularly for a smaller outfit which needs instant responses.
Some beta testers complain that calendar tasks not syncing properly with a Windows mobile phone, and others had trouble creating SharePoint sites.
Burns noticed that emails were not making it and there is a status dashboard which is as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Several people told him they received bounce-back emails while trying to contact him, the Office 365 dashboard insisted there were no problems at all.