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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 29, 2013 at 7:31 AM

Microsoft releases new version of Office, emphasizing cloud

Update 7:30 a.m.: Microsoft, as expected, announced this morning the release of its new version of Office, placing particularly strong emphasis on Office 365 Home Premium, its cloud-based subscription service version of Office for consumers.

Microsoft seems to especially be targeting Office 365 Home Premium, which is now available in 162 markets in 21 languages, at “busy households and people jugging ever-increasing work and family responsibilities,” to judge by its announcement.

Office 365 Home Premium, which is being sold as a subscription service for $99.99 a year (about $8.34 a month) or $9.99 monthly, includes the familiar Office productivity applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher. It also comes with an additional 20 GB SkyDrive personal cloud storage and 60 free Skype calling minutes a month to calling mobile phones or landlines. One license allows use of Office on up to five PCs or Macs or other supported devices.

New updates and features will also be going to cloud subscribers first, said Microsoft, which is offering a one-month free trial.

In addition, Microsoft also released today its new version of the traditional software package, which can be downloaded or purchased in packages in retail stores, called Office 2013.

The company also released Office 365 University, which college students, faculty and staff can get for $79.99 for a four-year subscription.

Office 365 for businesses, though, will not be released until Feb. 27.

[Below is the story running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Jan. 29, 2013.]

Microsoft is expected to release its newest version of Office on Tuesday — its latest in a recent line of big-deal launches.

The launch — which the official Office Twitter account teased Monday by referring to a Tuesday event in New York City — marks a big change in how many consumers will buy Office, a suite of programs for work such as word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.

While people will still be able to buy the program by downloading it or by purchasing a software package at a store, the run-up to its release indicated Microsoft is clearly pushing a new subscription model for Office.

Under this new model, people would pay a subscription price to access Office online — what Microsoft is calling Office 365.

For instance, a customer would pay $8.33 a month for the Home Premium version, which allows the person to use Office on up to five PCs or Macs.

A user’s content is then, by default, automatically stored in SkyDrive, Microsoft’s personal cloud offering — meaning it can be easily accessed whether using a PC or Mac or a Windows tablet or phone. (Users can also choose to store their content on their local drive.)

As long as customers keep paying for a subscription, they will automatically get updates and the newest features as they come out.

In contrast, the traditional software package — what Microsoft is referring to as Office 2013 — will be priced at $139.99 for the Home & Student version and $219.99 for the Home & Business version, and is licensed for use on only one device.

It’s part of Microsoft’s move toward becoming more of a devices-and-services company in which people pay for devices (such as tablets, smartphones and PCs) that will run programs and applications largely available as online services.

[Continue reading the story here.]

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