BlackBerrys will allow management via Microsoft’s Office 365

Research in Motion announced today that users of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service, which is expected to be available by 2012 and provide Exchange, Office, and other Microsoft technologies from a hosted environment, will support BlackBerry devices. Although there will be no monthly charge per user, businesses will still need to pay for a master BlackBerry enterprise service plan. RIM also said that Microsoft is now letting customers of Business Productivity Online Standard — Office 365’s predecessor — manage BlackBerrys with no monthly fee beyond the master service plan cost.

RIM will host the BlackBerry management service, interfacing with the Office 365’s Exchange instance and its ActveSync policies. RIM says the available policies will be the same as available through RIM’s standalone BlackBerry Enterprise Server, so users will not be limited to just Exchange’s policy options.

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RIM also announced it was expanding its other cloud offerings, including making its free BlackBerry Protect tool more broadly available. The tool lets users lock or wipe a lost or stolen BlackBerry, as well as have it ring in a loud tone to help users find one hiding under a couch or in a deskful of papers. Apple offers a similar free service called Find My iPhone, and some Motorola Android devices have the same capability through its free MotoBlur service.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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