Microsoft Office Announces Affordable Cloud-Based Solutions

When computers first entered the office environment, there was one way to get Office products. The office spent hundreds of dollars per license for each user and someone installed it individually on each PC. But in recent years, the office environment has changed, with many workers needing to access files on tablet PCs and smartphones.

Acknowledging this, Microsoft has come up with a new way to deliver its product that is not only more affordable for small business users, but cuts out the need to install it, as well. Customers need only sign up for the Microsoft Office 365 subscription service to have access to Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, as well as additional Cloud-based options.

Due to the monthly cost, this solution is ideal for small businesses and home users, who would traditionally have forked over nearly $350 per user. If that license is upgraded every four years, that customer will have paid $600, according to the pricing listed on Microsoft’s website. The small business will have the option of paying $12.50 per month or $149.99 each year for one license.

Where the savings comes in is in the ability to use Office on multiple devices. By adding on access to SkyDrive, a user can view, update, and save documents from anywhere. Additionally, the Office 365 user also gets Access and Publisher, two items that aren’t available in the standard version of Office.

That doesn’t include the installation of Office, which can be time-consuming and require a certain amount of technical expertise. If a small business is paying a technician to keep Office up-to-date on all devices, having Office 365 can provide a substantial savings over a four-year period. Because Office 365 is Cloud-based, it will always have the current Microsoft Updates, keeping your devices safe from malware.

A Microsoft spokesperson tells Waggener Edstrom Worldwide ”For most people, subscribing will be the best choice — especially for families, consumers with multiple devices and small businesses. Subscriptions to Office 365 include all the Office applications, additional services product upgrades as soon as they’re available, and access to Office on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as streamed access to full-featured Office applications on any PC.”

The  Home Premium edition of Office 365 brings with it huge cost savings, with $8.33 a month getting a user access on up to five PCs or Macs in a household, 20 GB of SkyDrive space, and 60 minutes of Skype world calls per month. Users can get a thirty-day free trial of Office Home edition for free to give it a try.

If I’m understanding this correctly, this means when a new version of Office debuts, users will automatically have access to that version, as well, whereas previously users would have to pay hundreds of dollars or be forced to stick with the old version. Granted, Microsoft can always upgrade the monthly price, as well, but for small business owners and home users, always having the latest version of Office for a small monthly fee is a pretty good bargain.

Each business owner should check out the offerings of Office Home and Office Small Business to see what savings they’ll have by switching to this version. But as small business owners increasingly choose tablet PCs over desktop PCs and laptops, Office’s Cloud offerings may better serve their needs of having access without having to install software.

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About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

  • http://www.strategyinternetmarketing.co.uk/ Mark

    I wonder if this has anything to do with the increasing amount of obsession with cost-efficiency in running servers (as opposed to, well, efficiency-efficiency). I also wonder if this will result in inferior reliability, but actually I doubt it. Companies like Microsoft are large enough that any downtime will be averaged out.

    Mark Davies | Strategy Internet Marketing