With the recent moves by Google Docs, Microsoft is showing it’s serious about making Office 365 a contender in the cloud-based documents market. Redmond is rolling out Office 365 Personal. You can tap into the online productivity software for as little as $6.99 a month.
It’s not clear when Microsoft made the decision to get more aggressive, but a couple developments emerged last week that may have pushed Redmond to offer a version with a more digestible price. For one, Google rolled out a Google Apps Referral Program. If you recommend Google Apps to your friend and he signs on, you get a $15 referral fee.
But Google didn’t stop there. The company also introduced Google Docs and Sheets add-ons, new tools created by developers that aim to give end users more features in their documents and spreadsheets. More than 50 add-ons debuted at launch.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Two days later, Microsoft’s Chris Schneider was pointing back to the previous week’s SharePoint Conference where executives discussed Office 365 for business investments. He said the company got some “outstanding feedback” from customers. Was a request for a lower price version among the feedback from the 3.5 million subscribers using Office 365? Possibly.
Schneider introduced Office 365 Personal, which will debut this spring. He called it a “great” new option for people interested in using Office 365. What’s so great about it? It’s designed for individual use. One PC or Mac and one tablet can connect to the service for $69.99 a year or $6.99 a month.
“We recognize that there are households of all shapes and sizes and we’re committed to delivering the right Office for everyone -- whether that be one person or an entire household,” Schneider said. “Additionally, we’ll continue to offer our Office 365 Home Premium subscription for households, but we’ll be changing the name to Office 365 Home.”
Is It Worth It?
We caught up with Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his take on the new Office 365 Personal version and pricing. He told us many view this as a price drop but it’s more of a new licensing package that slots in below the traditional Home Premium.
“Office 365 Personal is a logical addition. If you have one user at home or if you are a college student, it’s ideal,” Miller said. “You are paying for the ability to upgrade for as long as you keep your subscription active. The catch, if you will, is if you end your subscription the software goes away.”
So what’s to keep Microsoft Office users from buying a boxed version once and avoiding the annual or monthly fee? The services, Microsoft hopes.
Schneider noted that whichever Office 365 subscription you choose, you’ll get all of the subscription benefits including 60 minutes of Skype calling per month and 20 GB of additional OneDrive storage. Of course, Web-based Office users stay up to date with the most recent version of the software.
“You are paying to get a little bit of the services, but the main thing you are paying for is it’s a perpetual upgrade,” Miller said. “Microsoft has been trying to add more and more value to the software so that consumers will feel it’s worthwhile.”