After years of going around in circles without a clear understanding of how the Web works, Steve Ballmer and his elves at last have seen the light. Recently they have made important strategic moves in the right direction, (e.g. the launching of Windows 8, the marketing of the Surface computer, and introducing Microsoft Office 2013 online, also known as Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium). The latter is a typical demonstration that Microsoft can still can tap dance on top of the head of a pin.
With the launch of Office 2013, Microsoft is introducing a creative way for you to buy its software. No need to go to the store for a shrink-wrapped boxed version, it’s moved to a subscription-based model. For $99 you get what’s called Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium. You can install the software on up to five devices in your household. There’s also a “University” version for college students and faculty, which costs $79.99 for a four-year plan. This is nice since many families today have a main computer and then kids tend to have laptops of their own for schoolwork. The software can also be used on Mac computers, though Microsoft is still using Office 2011 for Macs.
The new Office suite of applications is aimed at home users rather than businesses, and is designed to extend Microsoft’s domination of the workplace to the home office and beat back growing competition from Google Inc’s free online apps.
For your yearly subscription fee, you get pretty much everything in the Office suite and then some. In addition to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the often-overlooked OneNote, among others, you get what is called Office on Demand. This means you can access these programs on any Windows 7—or Windows 8-connected PC. You also get an extra 20GB of SkyDrive space over and above the 7GB Microsoft already offers for free, to save all your documents in the cloud.
While it’s been three years since the last version of Office was released, Microsoft plans on pushing out updates to programs as soon as they’re ready. If PowerPoint or Word has an update, a user can download it—there’s no need to wait for a whole new version of the suite to come out. Some service packs will be automatically streamed to your computer when they’re ready so you’re always up to date.
Customers are getting used to the idea of paying a yearly fee for online services. We pay monthly or yearly for services such as Netflix and Spotify. It makes sense that Microsoft is looking to capitalize off this paid model. Digital newspapers are also following this monthly or yearly subscription strategy.
You may think $99 a year is a lot to pay for software, and you might be right, depending on your circumstances. If you have just one computer, perhaps two, and use it for mainly word processing and a spreadsheet, you’d be better off buying a boxed copy of Office Home and Student.
However, for families with two or three laptops in the house and perhaps a kid off at school with another one, a $99 yearly fee makes good sense. Especially with the SkyDrive storage and cloud-based access to all your email, calendars and documents.
Two and a half years in the making, the new Office is designed to extend Microsoft’s domination of the business market and counter the growing popularity of Google Apps, a collection of online-only, Office-style applications Google provides free for home users and sells to businesses for $50 per user per year.
Microsoft is hoping its move into online services, alongside its new Surface tablets, will push it into the forefront of mobile computing, which has been led by Google’s Android software and Apple’s combination of slick hardware and apps.
You don’t need to pay up front to try the cloud apps included in Office 365 Home Premium. There’s a 30-day trial available for free at Office.com. Of course, if you’re allergic to all things from Redmond, you can always use Google Drive’s free Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Form and Drawing cloud apps. I for one, don’t need to pay a cent for a productivity suite. I’ve been using Google Drive, with excellent results.
However, if you need to use Microsoft Office, the latest offer from Microsoft makes a lot of sense, plus you will save you some cents too. (No pun intended). Good Day.