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MS Office / Hosted solutions / Office 365

MS Office / Hosted solutions / Office 365

We are looking to simplify/renew our entire IT and communications structure.

We currently have a file server, and a terminal server, but only 2 users due to downsizing, so our current system is more than overkill. MS Exchange is currently hosted.

Two users, but 3 PC's, as we have one in our meeting room. If I understand correctly, we would need to buy 3 version of MS Office, one for each PC. If we obtained hosting we would need only 2 licences, as the meeting room PC could be logged on as an additional PC by one of the two users.

While full hosting has it's attractions, I am wondering if it will bring disadvantages, eg. we currently use Outlook and Excel add-ons eg. for filing emails outside Outlook, and VT Accounts. I believe these add-ons would have to be hosted, too.

Would hosting restrict our ability to use MS Office add-ons, trial new software, create/amend our own Access databases, etc? I have contacted the company that hosts MS Exchange for us, but I am not really sure what questions to ask them. I have looked at Office 365, but I don't really understand that either.

Any tips or guidance would be greatly appreciated.


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By mikest
23rd Aug 2011 14:52

Not sure about office 365, but I'm sure that you can buy Office 2010 with 3 licences for about £80.

Thanks (1)
23rd Aug 2011 14:58


Thank you, Mikest.

If you can guide me to the supplier I would be eternally grateful.

I have seen student versions of Office 2010 Pro for around £50 upwards, and some download versions for around £85, but I am not sure the download versions are bona fide versions and they don't seem to give their locations or contact details, other than email addresses.

Most UK retailers want around £350 upwards for the CD/DVD versions of Office 2010 Pro.


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By Old Greying Accountant
23rd Aug 2011 15:57

We are umming and erring ...

... quoted 3 options:

Outright buy @ £290 per machine - Office 2010 Pro (CD + licence key per machine)

Purchase Volume licence, @ £194.73 per user per year for 3 years - Office 2010 Pro (with upgrades for 3 years)

Download & 1 licence key for the install

Lease volume licence, including upgrades @ £125.86 per user per year ad infinitum - Office 2007 or 2010 Pro

Download & 1 licence key for the install 

All ex VAT


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23rd Aug 2011 16:47

Hosted Desktop UK

Hi Shirley, spooky but our setup was pretty much the same as yours, but we had 4 workstations as one person worked remotely and needed it to login.

We were spurred into action when the big box in the corner started snoring (& coughing) and so in March we took the plunge with who now host pretty much everything from Iris to Exchange, QuickBooks etc.  We used them after several recommendations on here and from other accountant users we spoke to.

We use an Outlook add-on called Mailsafe to tag & archive all our emails and this worked fine when loaded @ HDT.

Haven't looked back and it is soooo good not to have the boxes, wires, backups, updates and mystery glitches to worry about.  Give them a call about your add-ons and other software, they are really nice people.

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23rd Aug 2011 17:01

Thanks Paul

We already use HostedDesktopUK for our MS Exchange hosting, and it has been problem free :)

I suppose I am a bit worried about not having the freedom to play about and experiment with new software. I don't want my 'host' to get fed up of me if they have to keep helping out with my endless curiosity. They may sack me, the way I keep sacking clients who prat me about ;)

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23rd Aug 2011 17:44

Oh I see

See what you mean, have you asked them?

I run 2-3 packages locally as I only need them a handfull of times a year and it would cost me to host them, however if I needed to trial an add-on or even a potential update to anything already hosted I'd have no hesitation asking HDT to let me try it out.

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23rd Aug 2011 18:04


That is very interesting, and could be very useful to me. May I impose on your good nature a little more, please, with the following queries.

You can run programs locally, too? Can these programs get access to the 'hosted' data, or does the data have to be locally stored, too?

Do you have locally installed Outlook? At the office we do have Outlook installed locally, and somehow HDT have linked it to their MS Exchange server. I don't have Outlook at home, and I access my emails using a web browser link provided by HDT. Which method do you use for Mailsafe to work?

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24th Aug 2011 09:27


Hi Shirley - when in the hosted environment you can see the C drive on your local PC within windows explorer and so any files you need to work on locally can be copied & pasted (or even dragged & dropped) between the two.  This only works one way, ie you can not see your hosted drives from your local pc. 

From time to time I get a PDF that I want to convert to word or excel and there's a great piece of software that enables this (able2extract) which I run locally, so in HDT I merely copy the PDF to Paul's local C Drive, convert & leave the result in the same folder (locally) then open or copy/paste the result when back in HDT.

As an aside, I've used 2 screens for years but this comes into its own with HDT which I have open on one and local stuff on the other.

I do have locally installed Outlook but don't need it any more.  The way you describe use of Exchange is exactly how we used to work except that instead of the MS server being in the corner (as ours was) yours is up on HDT's server.  Our Outlooks & Exchange server are now on HDT's servers and Mailsafe sits up there next to it accessing the Exchange server with it's tool bar appearing in our Outlook screen.

Have you seen a demo of HDT, all it is is a normal Windows desktop, Start button, bottom bar etc etc, exactly as you would see it from your PC at the moment.

I forgot to say that the only glitch with Mailsafe was that one of it's facilities didn't work, but no great problem. HDT were only too happy to talk to Mailsafe, load it up try it out to make sure of the bits that did work. 

Edit: PS:  MS exchange with emails, contacts calendar etc is also available via smart phone and works 10 times better than wehen exchange was on our server.

Thanks (1)
24th Aug 2011 10:20

Thanks again, Paul

You have given me lots to think about. I don't want to rush into anything and find I regret it later.

I will maybe ask a few more questions of HDT before making a decision.

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By Old Greying Accountant
24th Aug 2011 10:30

My only reservation about hosted software ...

... is vulnerability.

If we loose broadband for any reason it is bad enough, but we can at least still work on our local network.

It does happen and may not be your fault, if some bucket happy JCB jockey knocks out half the town you are stuffed!

I know smart phones mitigate, but we lost broadband for a couple of days a whilse back. We did manage to run a 10 station network on a T-mobile dongle but it was disruptive as the speeds were not quite as fast as our landline ones, and that was just e-mails and the like - if we were flinging IRIS data up and down the airwaves I reckon we would use our months fair usage in about 6 hours!

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24th Aug 2011 10:47

Bucket happy JCB jockey ???

That made me giggle!

I suppose we have been very lucky, as we have only lost internet access for a couple of hours over the past few years, but yes, it is something to keep in mind and add to the pros/cons list.

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24th Aug 2011 12:04


As it happens, our office broadband is not brilliant and we get several 5 second freezes per day but, of course, there is always home and I've workd lots recently from car, caravan & park bench from laptop + dongle with excellent results. 

Remember too (especially with frantic Iris) that when working in a hosted environment it's only key & mouse strokes that dash up & down the wire, all the busy stuff takes place at the data centre.


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24th Aug 2011 12:17


Paul, do you mind if i ask how much it costs?



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24th Aug 2011 13:38


Hi Ray - As HDT do not give full details on their website I'm not happy saying what we pay, besides which there are lots of variables such as space requirement.  I would however point out that their basic monthly charge per user is £35 and this is the bulk of our charge.

When compared to a new server, all its software, server virus & firewall, dreadful backup tapes (I'm jinxed), the annual cost of our IT support company, and the GHG emissions from all the kit, I jumped.

The only real price comparison I made was with IRIS hosting but there was, in fact, no competition as Iris were so expensive and they expected you to sign up for 3 years, whereas HDT has a 90 day notice period.

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24th Aug 2011 14:10

Thanks Paul

HDT pm'd me so i will have a chat with him about the costs etc.

Thanks again

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25th Aug 2011 08:15

Moving your practice to the cloud

New EBook - for Kindle or Kindle app on PC/iPhone/iPad/Android available here....

How we did it.....


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26th Aug 2011 20:47

What it be of benefit to me?

I do not think I need Hosted Desktop but it could be I have misunderstood. I use:

Google Apps Premium for my emails

Dropbox for file saving

Office 2010



I have software both on my home and work pc.

I never seen a need to have tax and accounting software outside my home and office.

if there is a need to have word or excel elsewhere then I would have my laptop with me, I would just open up dropbox online.

I am sure I am missing a point here.





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By Fidget
26th Aug 2011 21:20

If only one laptop

Firsttab, unless you have a network or pay for multiple software licences for different pcs then hosting would just be an extra cost as hosting replaces a local network server

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