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A sneak preview of Microsoft Office 2013 – part 2


Following on from part 1 of our Microsoft Office 2013 review, we are going to talk about the distribution and licensing and installation of Office 2013…sound boring? We wouldn’t unusually talk about this but it’s interesting and hugely beneficial for businesses and individuals.

Have you dreamed of the day when you work on a shared computer that you’ll have no doubt about whether you will be able to open a document or presentation? Well Microsoft have designed the ability to do just that. The next generation of Microsoft Office will come in two formats (with two cost structures assigned to them):

Microsoft Office 365 Logo

Microsoft Office 365 Logo (Photo credit: Microsoft Sweden)

Office 2013 will be an updated version, as outlined in part 1 of this article and will be available for PCs, laptops and tablets, in this ever changing era of technology. The licensing structure remains the same in that there are three main categories: Home & Student at $139, Home & Business at $219 and Professional edition at $399. The licensing terms remain the same – a strict one-device install at any time. Small updates will continue to flow through via Windows Update but no major releases will be free within the price – users need to pay for the upgrade every 3-4 years if they want to stay up to date.

However…the online version of Office, Office 365 is almost the opposite in terms of flexibility and licensing. Office 365 licenses will enable the license to be for the user, and not the device. In association with its new cloud storage, SkyDrive, users will be able to install Office on up to five devices at any one time, irrespective of the version they buy.

In addition to this, there is an “Office On-Demand” install which uses Microsoft’s new App-V technology, making the install much faster. It does this by installing only what is necessary for the task in hand – if a user opens a word document from SkyDrive, it will only install Word. It also installs it less conventionally than what we are all used to – it’s done using virtualization, so the software appears to run on the local machine, but is in fact working from an application server environment.

There is no license number to enter – it is all behind the scenes, when it associates an install with your SkyDrive account and once you’re finished with the application, it quickly uninstalls itself. It’s really very clever and so useful in times where you are on a different device to normal.

So what does this technology cost? Well…the licenses are charged per year, and over a four-year period, it works out more expensive, but with good justification, in our opinion. Before we get to the prices, it’s important to remember that Office 365 will offer a lot more, even for the basic package. The updates and continued improvements will come through more regularly which adds a huge amount of value, with the distribution and usage rights.

The two packages, outside of the enterprise options yet to be released by Microsoft, are:

  • Office 365 Home Premium: $99 per year per user including all the benefits mentioned above, access to all Office applications, 20GB of free SkyDrive storage and  60 minutes of free Skype calling each month;
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium: $149 per year per user including the above and a Microsoft Exchange hosted mailbox with 25GB of storage and 500MB of personal storage (in addition to 10GB per organisation who signs up). There is also the ability to hold HD video meetings and conferences and host their business website, on Microsoft’s servers.

All performance enhancements are relative to what people currently experience. There are so many variables with the perceived performance speeds – internet speeds and loads, device hardware, processors, load on the servers, size of document…but with the ever-improving global networks and the introduction of 4G, this is almost certainly going to be a big hit.

We believe this is an exciting step forward in terms of technology-on-the-go and also a fantastic value for money scenario. The only recommendation from us to Microsoft? Education to prospective customers…we think the workings of this need to be clearly laid out and recommendations on staff training. Then it will be near-perfect.

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Reaching every day people and businesses with simple, effective and modern IT advice.

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