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Kirk Koeningsbauer, Microsoft corporate vice President of Office marketing, at the Worldwide Partner conference in Toronto this morning. (Microsoft Photo)

Facebook has agreed to use pieces of Office 365 software as a service, vindicating the usefulness of Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite for a high-profile, fast-moving tech company.

Tim Campos, Facebook’s CIO, appeared at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto today to announce that his firm is an Office 365 customer. “Microsoft got cool again,” Campos said on-stage.

“We collaborate on everything online—no files, no fragmented information stores—and we provide our employees with the ability to work anywhere and in any way they want,” Campos wrote in a blog post. “Our IT has to be flexible and available over the web, on mobile and across platforms — wherever our employees need it. This is why we’ve implemented Office 365.” The SaaS version of Office 365 works on multiple operating systems and devices, including smartphones.

Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, at WPC this morning. (Microsoft Photo)
Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, at WPC this morning. (Microsoft Photo)

Facebook, with 13,000 employees, reportedly will use the email and calendar portions of Office 365, among other things, but it won’t use the Yammer chat network or Skype for Business, because those pieces compete directly with Facebook’s own offerings. It will use the Delve, a feature that works with SharePoint and OneDrive, to let employees search for who’s working on what projects, and it will use Graph to call Office 365 APIs from within its own apps, Campos wrote. Office 365’s strongest competitor is the Google Apps suite.

Also at the conference today, Microsoft announced new initiatives to expand the use of its Surface tablets in businesses, including a “Surface as a Service” program for partners to offer the devices to businesses, and partnerships with IBM and Booz Allen Hamilton to create industry-specific Surface solutions.

In cloud news from the event, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s cloud chief, reviewed some key facts and figures about Azure — among them, that it’s available in more locations worldwide than Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform combined. By most rankings, Microsoft is number two in cloud market share, well behind Amazon Web Services, although a recent survey by Morgan Stanley predicted that Azure will edge out AWS by 2019 for both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) use.

Guthrie stressed that the cloud will be central to every organization’s software-development and deployment scheme. “The cloud provides an enormous opportunity for our partners, who have always been the backbone of our success,” he said.

After demos of several recently introduced Azure services, including Operations Management Suite and Azure Information Protection, Guthrie announced the general availability this week of SQL Data Warehouse for Azure and of Power BI Embedded. SQL Data Warehouse allows parallel SQL queries against relational and non-relational data that can scale up to petabytes. Power BI Embedded lets developers put interactive visualizations into apps using REST APIs and the Power BI software-development kit.

Separately, Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 will launch at Microsoft Ignite this fall.

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