Microsoft announced today that it will start offering a budget-priced Office 365 “Personal” subscription this spring to bring users on a budget onto the company’s service. The subscription will cost $6.99 per month, or $69.99 a year, and will allow users to connect one Mac or PC and one tablet to Office 365. Like Microsoft’s more expensive Office 365 plans, users will also get 60 minutes of free Skype calling a month, access to the Office 365 mobile apps and 20 GB of SkyDrive storage.
That’s a significant discount from the company’s current Office 365 Home Premium offering, which costs $99 a year, and allows users to connect up to five devices to the service. Microsoft said that plan will still be available, but the company will rebrand it as Office 365 Home.
The new plan would be a perfect fit to coincide with the launch of Office for iPad, which Microsoft has said it will release, though the company hasn’t offered a timetable for its launch. Office 365 apps are already available for the iPhone and Android phones, but the cost of a Home Premium subscription has been a major turn-off for some users.
Microsoft is also on the hook for a new version of Office for the Mac this year. Thorsten Hübschen, who is in charge of Office in Germany, said in an interview with Computerwosche that an updated version of the productivity suite would be coming sometime this year.
While Microsoft has dismissed Apple’s efforts to offer its iWork productivity suite for free to Mac, iPhone and iPad users as the Cupertino-based company trying to play “catch up” with Office on Surface tablets, the Personal plan seems like a way for Microsoft to try and keep competing with Apple’s free offering.
The news comes after reports yesterday that Microsoft plans to offer its OneNote notetaking software for free to Mac and PC users, in an attempt to compete with Evernote.