On Tuesday Microsoft announced the arrival of Office 365 Home Premium, a "reinvention" of the company's flagship Office product line for consumers. It's a cloud service that provides the latest Office apps that can be used across five Windows-based devices and Macs. The annual subscription fee will be a meaty $99.99 USD, the equivalent to $8.34 USD per month.
"Today’s launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft’s transformation to a devices and services business,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. "This is so much more than just another release of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits."
Is this a better deal? Consider the traditional desktop Microsoft Office 2013 Home & Student edition for $140, which is now available for purchase as well. It only offers one license for one PC, and contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote 2013. Users can still store their files in SkyDrive and access them on another computer, but there's no yearly subscription commitment: it's a one-time purchase.
However Microsoft's just-released Office 2013 Professional (also desktop) is not only more robust, but a lot more expensive, selling for $400 USD. Meant for only one PC, it includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access 2013. In Office 365 Home Premium, users have access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access too including all future versions.
According to Microsoft, Office 365 Home Premium provides one license that can be shared across five devices which can be activated and deactivated when needed. Also included in the mix is Office on Demand, an extra 20 GB of cloud storage in SkyDrive, and 60 free Skype world calling minutes per month. All of a sudden, Office 365 Home Premium sounds like a great deal.
"This is a major leap forward," said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division. "People’s needs change rapidly, and Office 365 Home Premium will change with them."
Microsoft also said it will now deliver many new features and services to the cloud first, thus eliminating the traditional three-year release cycle that desktop Office 2013 users will face. This means new features and services will be streamed to subscribers as soon as they're released.
The company also released Office 365 University for college or university students, faculty and staff at a price of just $79.99 USD for a four-year subscription. On a global scale, Microsoft released traditional versions of Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013, as previously mentioned.
Office 365 for businesses will be released globally with new capabilities on February 27, the company said.