[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Sept. 18, 2012.]
For years, most consumers have bought Office either by purchasing a package containing a disc or by downloading it.
If Microsoft has its way, that’s about to change.
On Monday, the company announced details and pricing for its upcoming version of Office. The biggest change is that, in addition to the traditional ways of buying Office, Microsoft is introducing Office 365 for consumers as a subscription service accessed online.
A single subscription of Office allows for multiple users and allows users to access their Office documents and programs across multiple devices.
Small businesses have been able to use Office 365 for a while now — and still can through the Office 365 Small Business Premium version.
But this is the first time Microsoft is offering a consumer version, called Office 365 Home Premium. The cost per subscription is $8.33 a month (or $99.99 per year), which allows for it to be used on up to five PCs or Macs.
(The Small Business Premium version costs $149.99 per user per year, with each person allowed to use Office on up to five PCs or Macs.)
Users’ documents will be stored by default on Microsoft’s SkyDrive personal cloud service, but people can choose to store their documents instead on their computer’s hard drive.
“With previous releases, customers expected a certain thing from us,” acknowledged Clint Patterson, communications director of the Office division at Microsoft. “This is going to reset expectations.
“Subscriptions, for us, represents a really fundamental shift in how we think about Office, how we deliver value for our customers,” he said. “Subscriptions allow us to deliver updates to customers multiple times a year. It means we can get updates to customers faster.
“We liken this to Netflix and Spotify,” Patterson added. “It’s roughly the same cost.”
[Continue reading the story here.]