Original Post From ALEXANDRA CHANG
The new cloud-friendly subscription-based Office suite that Microsoft first detailed last summer is finally available.
Unlike previous versions of Microsoft Office, Office 365 is a subscription and cloud service. For a yearly fee, you can download the Office 2013 suite on five computers and sync documents across your various devices via SkyDrive and your Microsoft account. But that also means that you have to continue paying year after year in order to keep Office on your computer. Starting Tuesday, you can buy the latest versions of Office, including Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University (for college students, faculty and staff). If you’re a business, keep waiting. Office 365 for businesses won’t be available until February 27.
A yearly subscription to Office 365 Home Premium will be available in 162 markets and cost $100, around $8.33 per month. If you’re a college student, Office 365 University costs only $80 for a four-year subscription, amounting to around $1.67 per month. It will be available in 52 markets. Office 365 for business costs $150 per year.
If you don’t have multiple devices, or aren’t interested in the subscription model, Microsoft is offering traditional one-time Office 2013 purchase options. Traditional Home and Student costs $140, Home and Business costs $220, and Professional costs $400 for one install that never expires. Still, the emphasis is on Office 365 subscription services. All of Office’s advertising investment will go toward pushing Office 365, Microsoft senior marketing manager Chris Schneider told Wired.
Since we last saw a preview version of Office in July, not much has changed. You get a revamped Office with a cleaner Windows 8 design and lots of new functionality aimed at everyday users. For example, Excel’s Flash Fill and Quick Analysis features make it easier to build spreadsheets with pretty charts. Other add-ons include a new Office Store where you can buy apps to use inside Outlook, Word, Excel or Powerpoint. And since you sign in with your Microsoft account, there’s also another layer of social activity baked in, making it simple to share documents with friends in different social networks. Overall, it’s a much less cluttered and more friendly productivity suite.
Microsoft says that it has spent the last several months making sure that programs run smoother and are optimized for the Windows 8 touch experience, though you can still download Office 2013 on Macs and Windows 7 PCs.
As for whether Office 365 offers enough value compared to competitors, Microsoft isn’t worried. “There are a number of things that this service delivers that you fundamentally can’t experience using alternative solutions,” Shneider says. “I mentioned the ability to store on the cloud. But also you can share to your local machine…. There’s also an ability to have this across on five different devices.” And when it comes to free services, Shneider is clear: “Specifically to Google Docs, we don’t view Office 365 as a competitor.”
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AltaFlux Corporation is a global HCM cloud consulting partner based in Troy, Michigan. We empower organizations by streamlining, transforming, and optimizing key human capital management (HCM) processes with industry-leading HCM cloud solutions like SAP SuccessFactors, Benefitfocus, WorkForce Software and Dell Boomi.