If you’ve been salivating at the prospect of upgrading to Microsoft Office’s latest iteration – 2013 – then your wait is officially over. Multiple SKU’s of Microsoft’s productivity platform will become officially available on Jan 29. Most importantly, Microsoft is now making the Office suite available to be “rented” via the Office365 Home Premium package. This subscription-based service will allow the main Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher) to be installed on up to 5 computers on your local network (Windows or Mac) for $99/year.
What this means for you:
Up until the arrival of Office365, most organizations couldn’t afford (or didn’t want to afford) an enterprise license for Microsoft products with the Sofware Assurance premium which basically guaranteed upgrades for their entire license base over a certain number of years. Instead they purchased what is known as a “perpetual use” license: it allowed the licensee to use the version of Microsoft software they purchased for as long as the software remains viable. This has manifested as many, many organizations running much older versions of Office dating back 10 or more years, and still quite happily getting work done without paying a single additional dime to Microsoft.
Microsoft, in an effort to keep the coffers full and users happy in all categories, has commoditized Office with this subscription service for everyone, allowing companies and families with tight budgets to remain competitive without breaking the bank. Office has been the predominant productivity package for business, and now with affordable pricing for entire households, Microsoft hopes to further extend and cement its grasp throughout the consumer market as well. Depending on where you stand in the industry, this is not always necessarily a bad thing. Broad standardization will lighten support burdens everywhere. On the flipside, crushing the competition might lead to stagnation in innovation, and as we all know, it’s been a long, long time since anyone every looked at a new version of Office with anything other than trepidation.