Amazon is moving into the office email business, unveiling a new cloud-based product called WorkMail that will compete with market leader Microsoft.

WorkMail will be released in the second quarter of this year by Amazon Web Services, the company’s IT services unit. It allows users to send and receive emails, manage contacts, and share calendars and, the Wall Street Journal reports, “is aimed at grabbing a slice of the corporate email market” largely controlled by Microsoft and to a lesser extent Google.

The product will be compatible with Microsoft Outlook and is designed so businesses won’t have to install a new email client.

“Customers have repeatedly asked us for a business email and calendaring service that is more cost-effective and simpler to manage than their on-premises solution … We built Amazon WorkMail to address these requests,” Peter De Santis, vice president of AWS Compute Services, said in a press release.

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WorkMail can be accessed from any computer browser and most mobile devices. “It’s something to swap out for Exchange, leaving the interface software (Outlook on the desktop, or native mail clients on mobile) intact,” TechCrunch says.

Emails will be stored at the Amazon data center of the user’s choosing, which, CNBC says, could be “particularly important for companies located in Europe, where data-privacy laws often implicate the geographic location of stored data.”

CNBC says the move into corporate email “highlights Amazon’s technology ambitions, particularly in the office, which is seen by companies such as Samsung and Facebook as a key battleground in the enterprise market.” AWS, it noted, is already behind a number of enterprise technologies and says companies including Netflix and Unilever use its products.

“It is a late move by Amazon but I think that competitors should still take it seriously because it is likely to be a disruptive player. But it’s hard to predict how big that will be,” said Martin Garner, senior vice president at market researcher CCS Insight.

WorkMail will cost companies $4 per month per user account, which is in line with what the Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work services cost.

Featured image: Thinkstock

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