Microsoft Releases Subscription-Based Office 365

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Microsoft today officially unveiled Office 365 Home Premium, a subscription-based version of Redmond's well-known Office suite.

For an annual fee of $99.99, the service includes all the Office apps - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access - and can be installed on up to five devices, from the Surface tablet to your laptop. There's also 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage and 60 free minutes of Skype calling minutes.

"Today's launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft's transformation to a devices and services business," Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said in a statement. "This is so much more than just another release of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits."

This cloud-based approach to Office means Microsoft can deliver more frequent updates, rather than being stuck with its usual three-year release cycle.

"This is a major leap forward," Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division, said in a statement. "People's needs change rapidly, and Office 365 Home Premium will change with them."

Microsoft is offering a free, one-month sneak peek at Office 365; sign up on office.microsoft.com to try it out. If you decide to drop that subscription, meanwhile, Microsoft told ZDNet that it will give customers time to save and export documents before access is cut off.

For those who need some tips, Microsoft has also set up Time to 365, a new crowd-sourced website that will include tips and tricks for getting the most out of Office 365.

Microsoft today also released Office 365 University for college or university students, faculty and staff. A four-year subscription will cost $79.99.

The company is not abandoning its traditional Office suite: Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013, and Office Professional 2013 also got an update. Office 365 for businesses will be released globally with new capabilities on Feb. 27, Microsoft said.

Microsoft first tipped the subscription Office 365 in July. In PCMag's full review, we found that Office 365 provides a "clear, up-to-date interface [and] subtle improvements throughout." There's also "unmatched power" for editing, viewing, and sharing, but the experience on a touch screen can be "clumsy."

For more, see PCMag's full review of Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium and the slideshow above.

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Source:  pcmag.com

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