Good news for Canadian users of Office 2010 and its cloud versions. In May 2016, Microsoft announced the beginning of regional availability of Office 365, the subscription based productivity software for business and individuals.
Regional availability means that Office 365 subscribers in Canada will be able to store and share online documents in a data center that is located within the Canadian borders. For example, if a law firm using Office 2010 in Manitoba creates an Excel spreadsheet that it intends to share with a legal partner in Halifax, the document can be uploaded to Microsoft OneDrive and stored in one of the new Canadian data centers.
A Matter of Compliance
Microsoft powers its various cloud products through several data centers located around the world. To the average Office 365 user, the geographical location of a data center does not matter much; a teacher in Saskatchewan may create an assignment for her student that is stored in a server located in Iceland. On any given day, that particular data center may go offline for maintenance, and thus that class assignment may end up being temporarily hosted in Northern Virginia. The teacher and the students in Saskatchewan will never know the difference.
For business and government users, however, compliance issues will dictate where their documents need to be stored. One example in this regard would be Health Canada, which must comply with certain record retention rules; a similar requirement may be faced by civilian contractors who perform work for the Canadian forces.
Whenever there is a business or regulatory need to keep Office 365 documents and communications within Canada, users will know that their work is being hosted by Microsoft in data centers located in Quebec City and Toronto. This regional cloud feature also applies to Microsoft Azure customers.
The Cloud Computing Paradigm
Statistics published by Microsoft indicate that Office 2010 users are more likely to take advantage of Office 365 subscriptions than they are to upgrade to the offline versions of Office 2013 or the new Office 2016.
The cloud computing paradigm has proven to be very attractive for Microsoft Office users in Canada and around the world. The Office 365 versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint are comprehensive enough to satisfy the needs of most personal and business users.
With the arrival of Windows 10 and the widespread growth of mobile devices, Microsoft is focusing on creating a cloud standard for its Office products. Office 365 is only the first step; now that Microsoft offers tablet and smartphone apps of Word and Excel, the next improvement will be to offer some level of offline access for Office 365 cloud apps that can synchronize with cloud folders when the user connects to the Internet.