Microsoft's Office 365 Home Premium to cost $99.99 annually per subscription

Office 365 Small Business Premium will cost $149.99 per employee, per year

Microsoft has announced the consumer and small-business prices for the new Office suite, which will be sold both via traditional single-device, perpetual licenses and via a new annual, multi-device cloud subscription.

The subscription version for consumers, called Office 365 Home Premium, will cost US$99.99 per household, while the small-business version, called Office 365 Small Business Premium, will cost $149.99 per employee per year, Microsoft announced Monday.

The licensed versions, called Office Home & Student 2013, Office Home & Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013, will cost $139.99, $219.99 and $399.99, respectively.

Microsoft will offer details later about versions of the new Office suite for large companies. It hasn't said when the new Office versions will be available commercially.

Since announcing the new Office, Microsoft has been clear in saying that it would prefer that buyers choose the new subscription model, but that it recognizes that there will be people who prefer the conventional license.

Now that the pricing information is available, customers will have the last word about which purchase model ends up being the preferred one -- paying once for the suite and using it for years on one device, or paying an annual fee that lets them access the suite in multiple devices.

One Office 365 Home Premium license gives the buyer the right to install the suite on up to five Windows 7, Windows 8 or Mac OS computers. In the buyer's household, multiple people can use the suite, each with his or her own account. The software is downloaded from a Microsoft data center and will be updated with new or updated features several times a year, according to Microsoft.

The Office 365 Home Premium license includes 20G bytes of storage in the SkyDrive online storage service, and 60 minutes of Skype IP telephony per month. Settings, preferences and documents can be synchronized via the cloud among the different devices included in the subscription.

A feature called Office on Demand lets users stream the suite to a device not included in the subscription for one-time editing purposes, such as when users are traveling and using a hotel PC. Office 365 Home Premium includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher.

Office 365 Small Business Premium works in the same way, except that licenses are per employee at a cost of $12.50 per month. Businesses can have licenses for up to 25 employees. Each employee can install the software on up to five Windows 7, Windows 8 or Mac OS computers.

In addition to the applications in Office 365 Home Premium, Office 365 Small Business Premium includes Lync Online and InfoPath, as well as Exchange Online -- shared calendars, 25G-byte mailboxes with virus and spam protection -- and SharePoint Online, which includes 10G bytes of cloud storage overall plus 500M bytes per user and tools to create websites.

Meanwhile, the conventional license suite Home & Student 2013 comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, while Home & Business 2013 adds Outlook. Professional 2013 comes with the previous applications plus Publisher and Access.

All versions, whether subscription or conventional, have a new interface consistent with the "Modern" -- formerly called "Metro" -- interface of Windows 8, which is optimized for touchscreens, such as those in tablets.

Microsoft also announced that starting Oct. 19, buyers of Office 2010 or Office for Mac 2011 will be able to sign up free for a one-year subscription of Office 365 Home Premium or the equivalent Office 2013 offering. Small-business owners will get a three-month trial of Office 365 Small Business Premium.

The company recently said that the Office version that will ship with Windows RT devices will be available between November and January. Windows RT is the Windows 8 version for ARM-based tablets and devices.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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