Microsoft Unveils Office 365 Pricing, Packages

Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2013


Microsoft, faced with challenges from Google and other vendors, is taking to the cloud in a big way with its upcoming release of new Office productivity software.

The software giant on Monday revealed pricing for a pair of cloud-based Office 365 software packages as well as for a new trio of traditionally licensed, locally stored Office 2013 suites. Office 365 will come in two flavors, Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 Small Business Premium. The new Office 2013 lineup can be purchased in the Home & Student, Home & Office, or Professional SKUs.

Microsoft hasn’t solidified a release date for its new Office products but did say that any purchase of Office 2010 or Office for Mac 2011 on or after Oct. 19 would be “eligible for a free upgrade to the new Office at the time of availability.”

Office 365 licenses will be sold on a subscription basis, with the Home Premium edition priced at $99.99 per year and the Small Business Premium edition priced at $149.99 per user per year. Both versions allow for installation of Office 365 on up to five PCs or Macs.


Users of Office 2013 will still pay a lump sum for the license on a single PC or Mac, ranging from $139.99 for Home & Student to $399.99 for the Professional edition. You can see a full pricing breakdown plus supported features in each version of Office 365 and Office in the chart from Microsoft below.

Microsoft sent us some use case scenarios for the various SKUs. For example, here’s how Redmond sees a family of three taking advantage of Office 365 Home Premium:

The Jones family has a kitchen PC. Susan, the mother, has a Mac, and Jason, the father, has a PC and plans to get a new Windows 8 tablet. Their daughter has a PC for school. Historically, they’ve upgraded their devices and Office every four years, so we’ll use a four-year subscription window.

A subscription costs $399.96 for four years. By contrast, they would have to spend $699.95 to equip all five of their devices with Office Home and Student 2013. With a subscription, the Joneses save $299.99, and they get the following additional benefits:

– Outlook, Access and Publisher
– Additional SkyDrive storage—a $40 value ($10/year for four years)
– Skype credit—a $119.52 value ($29.88/year for four years)
– Office on Demand, which allows subscribers to access the full, rich Office experience from any Internet-connected PC
– New service updates and product upgrades


Microsoft Office 365 Chart




Microsoft Surface tablets: the differences between Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro models

Microsoft Surface tablets the differences between RT and Windows 8 Pro models


Surfaces. Turns out, the plural form of Microsoft’s new tablet range rolls off of the tongue with ease, but understanding the differences between the first two models may not be quite as easy — particularly for the everyman, or folks intimately familiar with Microsoft’s other Surface. Two editions — Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro — were unveiled today in Los Angeles, and while the exterior of each one looks nearly identical, the innards expose major differences in architecture. Let’s break it all down after the break, shall we?


Surface for Windows RT tablet
  • Processor: NVIDIA Tegra-based ARM chip
  • Weight: 676 grams
  • Thickness: 9.3 millimeters
  • Display: 10.6-inch ClearType HD capactive touchpanel
  • Battery: 31.5Wh
  • I/O: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Software: Windows RT + Office Home & Student 2013 RT
  • Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand
  • Capacity: 32GB / 64GB
  • Availability: “Around” the Windows 8 launch (fall 2012)
  • Pricing: To be determined




Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)
  • Weight: 903 grams
  • Thickness: 13.5 millimeters
  • Display: 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD (1080p) capactive touchpanel
  • Battery: 42Wh
  • I/O: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Software: Windows 8 Pro
  • Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand, Pen with Palm Block
  • Capacity: 64GB / 128GB
  • Availability: “Three months after” the Windows 8 launch this fall
  • Pricing: To be determined

So, what’s the story? Well, for one, Microsoft’s playing coy when it comes to both CPU speed and available memory. Not unlike Apple and its iPad, actually. We’re guessing that the company will try to push the user experience instead of focusing on pure specifications, and it’s frankly about time the industry started moving in that direction. Pure hardware attributes only get you so far, and judging by the amount of integration time that went into this project, Microsoft would be doing itself a huge disservice to launch anything even close to not smooth-as-butter.

It’s worth pointing out that the ARM-based WinRT (psst — you can catch up on what exactly Windows RT is here) model is both thinner and lighter than the version with Windows 8 Pro. Moreover, the battery is sized up in the latter, presumably to handle the higher power drain of the 1080p panel and the Core i5 processor. Strangely, microSDXC and USB 3.0 are only supported on the Win8 Pro model; we’re guessing it’s either a platform limitation, or just run-of-the-mill cost cutting. That said, bundling Office with the WinRT edition is apt to make Win8 Pro buyers salty; why not include it with the slate that’ll be priced like a laptop (i.e. well north of what a lot of buyers will be willing to pay)? While we’re comparing and contrasting, it’s also vital to note that the WinRT variant won’t ship with a 1080p panel; Microsoft didn’t get specific on screen resolution, but a paltry 1366 x 768 is going to look mighty pixelated sitting next to a 1080p Win8 Pro sibling, a Retina-equipped iPad and ASUS’ 1080p Zenbook / Transformer lines.



Those looking for a complete Windows experience in the form of a tablet will obviously need to pony up for the Windows 8 Pro model; those content with new, Metro-style apps engineered for Windows on ARM will likely save a few bucks by selecting that Surface. The real issue here is the murkiness when it comes to pricing. Microsoft is shying away from specifics, only saying that “pricing for Surface for Windows RT will be on par with other Windows RT tablets,” and “pricing for Surface for Windows 8 Pro will be on par with Ultrabook-grade laptops.” Unlike Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Microsoft is in a tricky situation; it can only do so much on its own before it ticks off those all-important OEMs that’llalso be making Windows-based slates in the near future, and undercutting those guys on pricing won’t go over well in terms of business relationships.

In fact, we’ll be eagerly awaiting reactions from the likes of ASUS, Acer, HP, Toshiba, Dell and the rest of the lot — Microsoft just made itself a rival in a lot of ways, and only time will tell how prudent that decision was. It’s also bizarre that Microsoft isn’t opening up pre-orders on these right away. As we’veseen with Palm, announcing a hugely hyped product with no concrete launch path and no way to get dollars funneled in with pre-orders doesn’t typically turn out well — or, as well as it could have. It’s also downright worrisome that no battery life figures were bandied about. Windows-based tablets of the past have always fallen short due to simply running out of gas in three to four hours, and today’s tablet expectations are far different than even a few years ago. Is it possible for a Windows 8 Pro tablet to last 6+ hours on a single charge? Only time will tell, but we sure wish MS would’ve provided some sort of idea from the get-go.