Digital: Microsoft pins its hopes on renting Office space
Published 08/02/2013 | 19:40
Which would you prefer? Pay €100 a year or about €300 every three years? That is, more or less, the equation Microsoft has posed with the launch of Office 2013, the newest upgrade to the venerable productivity suite.
Google has been plugging away with its free web-based equivalent to Office for several years, to the point where it's now a highly capable alternative for most users, albeit one that doesn't work too well without internet access.
Microsoft is coming from the opposite direction, slowly trying to incorporate online features into the desktop software that made $16bn in profit last year. Office 13 is where Microsoft meets Google Docs head-on, but with an unusual payment option.
You can go the traditional route and pay up front — about €270 in the case of the standard consumer version that buys you all the usual: Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel.
You need never pay another cent unless you desire whatever Microsoft cooks up next — usually every three years or so.
Microsoft would much prefer you went for the new “rental” option, known as Office 2013 Home Premium. For €100 a year, you gain access to the same software but with the promise of frequent free improvements plus the ability to install on up to five computers (including Macs, but they get only an older version).
Stop paying, however, and your software dies. Your documents will be safe but Office 2013 Home Premium will no longer work.
In many ways, you end up paying the same, particularly if you upgrade religiously every time MS puts out a new release.
Home Premium sweetens the deal beyond the five-PC install with extra online storage and 60 minutes of free Skype calls a month. Nonetheless, Office 13 (whatever flavour) is technically nothing radical, though it does sport a hefty bunch of nice templates.
However, storing your documents in the cloud is hardly new and its rival Google Docs comes with the attractive price tag of “completely free”.
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