Microsoft is launching a new version of Office for Windows PCs and Macs today, with a new twist: Families and home users will have the option to subscribe to the productivity suite for the first time — skipping the one-time licensing cost and instead paying a recurring annual fee of $99.99/year. Previously Office subscriptions were available only to businesses.

It’s a major change for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and related products — part of a broader effort by the company to adapt the Office suite for a new world of online services, tablets and devices at a time of increasing competition from Google, Dropbox, Evernote and others.

Underscoring the global reach of the longtime Microsoft product, the company is launching the primary Office 365 Home Premium subscription in 162 countries and 21 languages today. The $99.99/year subscription comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and other Office apps for up to five machines, plus an extra 20 GB of SkyDrive Storage, and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.

The software is available for download via Office.com. Microsoft is also offering a 30-day free trial.

Microsoft has optimized the new Office software for touch-screens, and made upgrades throughout the Office applications including an improved Presenter Mode in PowerPoint, a recommended charts feature in Excel, and new features in Outlook for faster navigation of email messages and calendars.

Users will have the ability sign in with their Microsoft accounts to save preferences and settings, share content among their different devices using the SkyDrive cloud storage service, and manage their Office installations via a central hub at Office.com.

This central hub is a nice improvement, and clearly an area where Microsoft is putting a big focus. Testing a version of Office 365 Home Premium this week, I was able to enter the product key just once, and then install the software across multiple Macs and PCs by logging into Office.com on each machine and downloading the installation from my account page.

Microsoft is touting OneNote for the ability to access notes and saved content from virtually any device, but Mac users will be disappointed — although there is an existing version of OneNote for iOS, there’s still no version of the Microsoft note-taking software for OS X.

Office 365 University, targeted to students, will cost $79.99 for a four-year subscription, with the ability for one user to install the software on two PCs or Macs.

What happens if people let the subscriptions expire? Office 365 will shift to a reduced functionality mode that will let users view or print documents but not create or edit. They can, however, still use Office Web Apps for basic editing, and Microsoft says they will retain access to files.

The company will also still sell a traditional version, Office Home & Student, for a one-time-licensing fee of $139.99, with the ability to install word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote on one PC. Office Home & Business 2013 will sell for $219.99, and Office Professional 2013 will sell for $399.99, with extra programs including Microsoft Publisher and Access.

An upgraded version of Office 365 for businesses will launch Feb. 27.

Here’s a gallery of images from Microsoft showing some of the new features in the updated Office applications.

 

Comments

  • Guest

    Congrats to Big Mike on the launch! I’m glad to see that customers retain the option to go year-by-year or to lump the sum.

  • WTF?

    WTF is it with Microsoft and pricing? $900 for the Surface Pro and now $100 a year for Office?!

    When I’ve had to pay for Office myself, I’ve managed to get my copy to last 5 – 7 years at a time. So I can either pay about $200 or so once and use it for 5 – 7 years or pay $500 – $700. Why would I do the latter?

    Again, they’re seriously overpricing their offering. I don’t know anyone that’s going to pay that much for Office (especially when Google’s offering is free). They don’t get that they’re the underdog again and need to make a compelling price and value proposition.

    • bnlf

      first you can pay $140 and get it for the rest of your life or you can pay $8.30/mo and get updates every year plus install on 5 PCs. Your choice. Second, Google docs is so far behind Office that I don’t even know why ppl make comparisons. If you want a free online solution just like Gdocs, you can always use the FREE Microsoft Web Apps which is the online version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Notes, which by the way are superior than googles alternative. Just login to skydrive and create a new document and see for your self but i guess its just easier to bash Microsoft, right?

      • guest

        People make comparisons because they use both and find Google docs perfectly adequate to their needs. I have to use Office 2007 for work and I use Google docs on my own because I want to. I find the “Ribbon” in 2007 a complete obstacle and still hate it. I find Google docs works just fine and I don’t have to use the help system to find commands.

        Criticizing is not bashing: there is a difference. We who criticize do so because we have a reason to care about a company going down the wrong path. Indeed, it’s the inability to understand that criticism should be listened to that’s driving the ship into trouble.

        Here’s an example: I won’t use SkyDrive because Microsoft refuses to use adequate security to protect your credentials. Google docs has two factor authentication. You Microsoft ID doesn’t and that system has a history of problems with account hijacking. So I’m not going to trust my data to it until that issue is addressed.

        • bnlf

          “because i want to” is no argument. You like Google and that’s why you use Google Docs and the reason you use it is just because you dont really work with docs or spreadsheets that much (if you ever had to actually use it, most ppl just say they use something to make a point) otherwise you’d feel the need for something better. As far as security is concerned Microsoft has all the features you need. You can use your mobile as token, you can set only the computers you want to be able to sign in and a few other options if you’d like those painful security checks. The “history of account hacking” is just an invention of yours. As far as security and privacy concerns, Microsoft is beyong Google. It’s your hating against Microsoft that makes your arguments pointless. Guess what, Google just want your money like Microsoft. They dont like you more and you won’t be less “cool” just because you use something from Microsoft.

    • guest

      If you invested half as much time researching the subject matter as you do posting your non-stop negative rants, you could save all of us a lot of time.

  • Bryan Mistele

    Am I the only one that thinks there won’t exactly be scads of people lining up to pay a $100/year subscription for Office? I can’t imagine the whole idea of renting desktop software in this day and age will be very well received.

    • http://twitter.com/browsetech Site Central

      In other places of the world it’s even more expensive, 145 USD in Norway. Somehow I don’t think I will buy the new Office.

  • Dave

    Important to note the $100 per year for five devices versus $140 or $210 per device forever. The cloud hub seems very interesting and would be really interesting for me if they had an iPad app.

    However, I only use one Windows machine at home (kids have another) plus my iPads and smartphone. I use Google docs for free for the personal things I want to access on any device, Microsoft on a PC for other things or where required for one reason or another. Without an iPad app, I don’t see a lot of utility for me in the subscription. I get 4+ years out of my home PCs and the cloud product does not allow access to my key other content consuming device (iPad) at home so the utility seems limited relative to a one-time license cost that is good for the survival period of the PC. But a very interesting concept. A lot more interesting at the $50 per year Google charges for the premium Google accounts than at $100.

    • guest

      It also includes 60 Skype minutes a month and 20GB of additional Skydrive storage. They need to highlight that more.

  • guest

    $100/year doesn’t seem like that much; it’s less than $10/month. But then again, I don’t really know who uses the full Office at home for personal use only (I think you’re not supposed to use this for business stuff, right?)

  • Mike_Acker

    Come to Linux .

    • Predictable shill

      Well done. Feel better?

  • Guest

    I don’t know, as of late I have found myself criticizing Microsoft a lot for their outlandish business decisions, but Office on 5(!) devices for $100/year is pretty cool. I really expected it to be much more, perhaps even $100 per single license. That would have been a predictable move by MS, but this is actually very attractive. At least here in the US, overseas I suspect that Microsoft will push many towards free solutions. I personally run Linux (and Windows only in a VirtualBox), therefore I use mostly Libre Office, but sometimes I still like to go back to Office because PowerPoint simply can’t be beat. So this could be a nice venue to keep Office around. Surprising really.

  • guest

    google docs folks. screw microsoft.

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