Though much of the attention on Office in recent months has focused on the launch of Office 365 Home Premium — Microsoft’s new subscription-based Office offering for consumers — it’s worth noting that Office 365 initially was geared toward businesses.
Now, Microsoft has released a major update for Office 365 for businesses. The release emphasizes business-oriented social networking (including recent Microsoft enterprise networking service Yammer), and includes updates to its core applications such as Excel and PowerPoint.
Among the new offerings are Office 365 Midsize Business, designed for companies with 10 to 250 employees, and Office 365 Small Business Premium, for companies with up to 10 employees.
Also new is Office 365 ProPlus, which offers Office for use on up to five devices. (Office 365 ProPlus is included with the updated Office 365 Enterprise offerings and the new Office 365 Midsize Business; it’s also available as a standalone purchase.)
Office 365 ProPlus is clearly another way that Microsoft is shifting toward becoming a devices-and-services company, emphasizing its ongoing, cloud-based services in addition to its traditional one-time software purchase options.
That shift may be boding well for Microsoft, at least where Office is concerned. Office 365, which launched in 2011, has been the fastest-growing Microsoft Business product, revenue-wise, said Kirk Gregersen, general manager of Microsoft Office Division. A year ago, about one in seven enterprise customers was using Office 365, he said. Now about one in five is.
And the Office 2013 consumer release, including Office 365 Home Premium — the consumer-oriented offering — is selling faster than Office 2010 did, said Gregersen, noting that Office 2010 was one of the strongest releases in Office’s history. And more people have opted for the subscription service than Microsoft had expected, he added.