If you are a GoDaddy customer, you now can sign up for a special version of Microsoft email and office software  such as documents and spreadsheets; have everything available for online and offline use; and have one company to call if you need support. Oh, and you can get consolidated billing instead of bills from both companies — and set it up without having to deal with technical issues such as looking up MX records.
It’s part of a strategic partnership announced today by GoDaddy and Microsoft, for the small business market. By partnering together, the two companies say they’ve made it seamless for the business owner or manager. You do not need an IT administrator and you don’t need to jump back and forth from one provider to another.
A “Unique” Email and Office Apps Offering
The new offering, according to GoDaddy senior vice president Steven Aldrich, is a unique version of Microsoft’s Office 365. It is not available in the special configurations anywhere else but GoDaddy, and is designed to meet the unique needs of small businesses. Also, the consolidated setup, billing and support reduces complexity over other solutions on the market today, he says.
Three tiers of the Office 365 offering are available. The lowest tier, which starts at $3.99 per user per month (i.e., less than $50 per year for one person), is just for email, calendar and contacts. Two higher tiers layer on added email storage, cloud file storage using Microsoft SkyDrive Pro, Lync video conferencing, online versions of office apps such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, and even desktop versions of Microsoft Office for MACs and PCs. The mid-tier is $8.99 per user, and the highest tier is $12.49 per user, monthly.
GoDaddy, which today has 12 million customers across the globe, worked with Microsoft to tailor the offering with micro-businesses in mind — those with 5 employees and under. However, according to Aldrich, you’re not limited to five. You can opt for as many as 25 users under each service tier. And if your organization has some users who need higher tier levels than others (say, some need full office apps but others only need email), you can mix and match to add up to 75 users total, 25 per tier.
All email addresses will have your business’s own custom domain name associated with them — such as [email protected]
John Case, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, noted that Office 365 is “the fastest-growing Microsoft product in history.” Office 365 is the cloud equivalent of Microsoft’s famous desktop Office software.
The special Office 365 offering by GoDaddy is currently available in the United States and Canada. It will be rolled globally in the next 3 months.
Overall, Aldrich says, GoDaddy wants to make “the business of doing business easy” on you. He added, “If you went to buy email from another company, you’d need to know your MX records, and other technical information. You’d have to look details up in one control panel. Then you would have to enter that information into another setup panel on the email site. If you pick our Email Essentials offering, you just enter your username and password and click the set-up button. GoDaddy and Microsoft have done the work to make it all happen seamlessly.”
He also pointed out that the Office 365 offering by GoDaddy  features streamlined admin panels (example pictured below) designed for the small business person, not an IT administrator.
Existing Workspace Customers Still Supported
GoDaddy customers who use the company’s existing Workspace email offering will be able to use that service indefinitely. GoDaddy will continue to support it. Eventually GoDaddy plans to phase it out, although no date has been set. Says Aldrich, “We will take the time to plan an orderly migration at some future point, but we haven’t even started that planning process yet.”
GoDaddy for the past two years has been working on a product strategy that goes well beyond providing domain names, what the company was originally known for.
The Microsoft arrangement is the culmination of product design activities and partnership explorations that started over a year ago. Says GoDaddy’s Aldrich, “We talked with existing GoDaddy customers, as well as small businesses that do not use GoDaddy today. We discovered three needs. Small businesses wanted email and apps to be available both online and offline. The offerings needed to be a product line small businesses were already familiar with. And the solutions needed to be easy to implement.”
Aldrich added that GoDaddy looked at various email and office offerings on the market. It negotiated with Microsoft because the Redmond, Wash. company’s product offered the best fit, and the two tailored it even further. GoDaddy says it will be responsible for providing 24/7 support via its 2,500 customer care agents. They are located domestically in Arizona and Iowa. There’s also a customer care center in India to serve the Indian market.
Image credits: GoDaddy