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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 30, 2013 at 7:41 AM

Microsoft hoping to win busy families over to Office 365

FelicityHuffmanOffice.jpg

Actress Felicity Huffman tries out the Fresh Paint Windows 8 app during the Office 365 Home Premium launch event in New York City’s Bryant Park Tuesday. (Photo from Microsoft)

[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Jan. 30, 2013]

Is there a way to make Office less, well, office-y?

Microsoft certainly seems to be making the attempt to position Office as not just a workplace and productivity staple but also something that can make people’s home and personal lives easier as well.

Almost everything about Microsoft’s launch Tuesday of its new version of Office made clear whom the company was targeting: consumers and, especially, busy families.

There was the announcement itself, in which Microsoft emphasized the home-use version of its new subscription-based Office productivity suite.

Office 365 Home Premium, the company said, is “a cloud service designed for busy households and people juggling ever-increasing work and family responsibilities.”

And there was the celebrity Microsoft chose for its launch event, held in New York City’s Bryant Park: actress Felicity Huffman, perhaps best known for portraying a harried working mom and wife on TV’s “Desperate Housewives.”

At the event, Huffman talked with a television interviewer about how she uses Office 365 for “all the work I do” on her own website (whattheflicka.com), and how she loves OneNote, Office’s note-taking program.

Winning over working moms and dads — and consumers in general — is a big part of Microsoft’s strategy as it seeks to move people over to a completely new way of paying for Office: with a subscription.

For the first time, Microsoft is offering its productivity suite, which includes programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, via a monthly or yearly subscription.

Targeting consumers is also a way to try to leverage the popularity of Office — one of the company’s biggest cash cows — into increased sales for Windows tablets, which so far have a very small market share.

And it’s a way for the company to fight back against the inroads into the workplace made by Apple’s iPad, Android tablets, Google Docs and Google Apps.

“I think Microsoft, overall, wants to win consumers overall with its tablets, phones, touch devices,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst with research firm IDC. ” And it wants to use Office as an asset.”

The challenge, he says, will be to see if Microsoft has priced its subscription model right, given that many people are used to buying Office as a software package and using it for years at a time.

[Continue reading the story here.]

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