Microsoft Office upgrade cycle favours renters over buyers

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Microsoft Office upgrade cycle favours renters over buyers

Office 365 users to get new features first.

Buyers of Microsoft's new standalone Office productivity suite should expect a slower cycle for new updates and features than those renting the software as a service.

A Microsoft representative has informed ReadWrite that Office 365 customers will get most updates first, as well as upgrades and new features.

Microsoft differentiates between updates and upgrades, the former being smaller feature additions such new Office Web Apps and the latter bigger changes for the entire software suite such as improved support for mobile devices and improved collaboration abilities.

That distinction becomes important when one considers whether to buy or rent the software.

The standalone Office 2013 will get the same updates Office 365 does, but not the upgrades or new capabilities, according to Microsoft. Updates for Office 2013 will arrive in the traditional Service Pack format.

Office 2013 may also be locked to a single device and cannot be reinstalled on another one, The Age reports. A new license agreement for Office 2013 states that "you may not transfer the software to another computer or user".

It is not clear at this stage how Microsoft intends to enforce the single-device licensing scheme for Office 2013.

Office options

Microsoft offers a large range of versions and licensing schemes for both the rental and standalone versions of Office.

The company charges $7.90 per user and month for Office 365 for small businesses, and offers a range of plans for enterprise customers, starting at $6.30 a month per user for kiosk workers, going to $33.80 and above for fully-fledged users, offering the same features as Office Professional.

All Office 365 options are available in Australia via Telstra's T-Suite service.

Office 365 Home Premium, meanwhile, can be used on up to five Windows PCs or Macs (not all apps are available on the Apple platform) and costs $119 a year or $12 a month. 

Enterprise customers can buy the standalone Office Standard and Professional 2013 Plus through Microsoft's volume licensing scheme.

In a separate announcement, Microsoft is in talks with large systems vendors such as Acer, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba to bundle Office 365 with PCs.

The Jakarta Post quotes Microsoft Indonesia's president Andreas Diantoro as saying the company is in discussions with at least seven leading PC brands over the bundling deal.

One of the aims behind the bundling deal is to reduce piracy. Diantoro says Microsoft has a 98 percent share of the software market but only ten percent of people use applications that are legally purchased.


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