Microsoft Launches Office 365 As Subscription Service
Microsoft launched its newest version of Office today and for the first time made the software available on a subscription basis. For an annual fee of $99.99—or $9.99 a month—Office 365 features all the traditional Office apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. Members can install the software on up to five devices—including laptops, desktops and even Microsoft’s new Surface tablet—and store data on 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage in order to access documents from anywhere.
“Today’s launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft’s transformation to a devices and services business,” Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said in a statement. “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.”
The cloud-based service also means Microsoft can deliver more frequent updates to Office users who previously had to repurchase the software every three years or so. Microsoft moved to the subscription model to better accommodate changing consumer habits. According to Redmond’s senior public relations manager Chris Schneider, 73 percent of people send their last email of the day after leaving the office—a signal to Microsoft that its products needed to be more accessible.
Users can also create multiple accounts within the same subscription so each user in a household has a unique profile. For example, Mom’s household budget can be saved and accessed in a completely separate profile from Junior’s term paper on Word War II.
Microsoft 365—which can be purchased and downloaded from www.office.com –is also available in a student addition where a onetime fee of $79.99 covers four years of service. A Small Business Premium version, which offers a 25GB Outlook mailbox and the ability to host meetings—is also set to launch Feb. 27 for $149.99 a year.
Microsoft has invited new users to try out the Office 365 download with a 30-day free trial. Once the trial is over or a subscription is allowed to lapse, documents stored in the cloud will be accessible as read-only documents or for editing with a previous version of Office.
Little has changed with the actual functions of new the office, however in line with Windows 8 it has a cleaner, less-cluttered appearance. The ribbon has been hidden and it offers a new touch-screen setting. The software is compatible with machines running Windows 7 and Windows 8, as well as OS X versions 10.5.8 or later.
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