Microsoft's new cloud-based collaboration and productivity offering, Office 365, is designed to provide an 'anytime, anywhere' service. It promises 24/7 access for 365 days of the year. Unfortunately 2012 is a leap year, and Microsoft has confirmed that the service will be off-line on February 29th.
The company has hastened to point out that the service is charged on a monthly basis and that the loss of a single day of operation every four years is not significant. However, faced with the prospect of losing access to shared documents for a whole day in the middle of the week, user groups and industry pundits do not agree.
Cloud computing experts Fluffy Thinkers believe Microsoft have made a big mistake. "The feedback we are getting suggests that a service limited to 365 days per annum is just not acceptable," Fluffy Thinkers' CEO Phil Lament tweeted a few days ago. And on his blog, he said that the timing of the planned outage could not be worse for the product launch.
"Office 365 is only just out, and already early adopters are having to plan for a day's downtime. Still, we have come a long way since the X-box 360 set the trend for specifying annual availability."
Asked to explain the situation, a Microsoft spokesperson tried to down-play the issue. "Office 365 is simply the name of the service. It has nothing to do with whether the service is available on leap years or not. I admit it's rather unfortunate that we do have a 24-hour negative uptime availability event scheduled for February 29th this year."
Fluffy Thinkers have refuted the Microsoft claim, however. As Phil Lament points out, there are signs that the software giant is fully aware of the Office 365 Leap Year problem and is planning to address it in due course.
He told us: "I have had access to a number of internal Microsoft Office road-map documents, and they refer to version 2 of the product as Office 365.25."