Microsoft launching Office 365 for Government

Office 365 now tailored to government needs
Office 365 now tailored to government needs

With Microsoft's announcement of Office 365 for Government, the software giant is ensuring that working in the cloud isn't just for civilians anymore.

Like the vanilla Office 365, the government edition offers cloud access to Microsoft's productivity apps like Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online, and Office Professional Plus.

What makes Office 365 for Government special is that it will store all of its U.S. government data in what Microsoft calls a "segregated community cloud."

Cloud security is a top priority

Now, it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to worry about storing important government documents in the cloud.

To help ease those concerns, Microsoft issued assurances that Office 365 for Government "supports the most rigorous global and regional standards" when it comes to security.

That includes ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, the US Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and a handful of other global security acts and protocols.

Steps are also being taken to soon support the Criminal Justice Information Security policies.

By September Microsoft plans to have it also support IPv6 to help future-proof its cloud app service.

Office 365 isn't the only cloud-based app service getting involved at the federal level, as it will be competing against the already available Google Apps for Government.

In our own review of Office 365 last year, we found it to be more streamlined and with better integrated services than Google Apps, though at a higher cost and with a strict Windows OS requirement.

It's a tradeoff that's easier to justify at an individual or even a business level, but we've yet to see if it's one the government is willing to make.