Microsoft is trying to expand the reach of its Office 365 subscription-based cloud service.
According to a report published by InformationWeek.com, Microsoft this week announced “Office 365 Personal,” a tweak on the Office 365 Home or Office services that it revealed back in 2010. The basic fundamentals of the program are still the same, allowing users to access applications from the Microsoft Office suite – including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint – from both desktop/laptop computer and mobile devices. The Office 365 service essentially moves the classic functions of Microsoft’s Office suite into the online realm, allowing users to save their files to the cloud so that they can be accessed anywhere. In short, Office 365 has taken Microsoft’s most essential software into the mobile realm.
Until now, the most “consumer-oriented” version of Microsoft’s cloud-based service was Office 365 Home Premium, which is available to users on a $9.99 per month/$99 annual subscription fee. Home Premium – which, in the wake of the launch of Office 365 Personal, will be rebranded to simply “Office 365 Home” – allows users to access Office programs and cloud services on up to five computers and five mobile devices. In contrast, Office 365 Personal will be meant for single-person households or homes with only one computer. It will only allow for activation on one computer and one mobile device, but will in turn boast a lower $6.99 monthly/$69.99 annual subscription price.
Precisely what other changes are on the way with Office 365 Personal is difficult to say. As of yet, Office 365 has only truly been accessible from Windows-based tablets, leaving owners of iPads or Android tablets out in the cold. Microsoft has stated a few times that it will be opening Office 365 for use on non-Microsoft tablets at some point – a move that would greatly increase the appeal of the Personal platform. However, no one knows right now when that particular point of expansion may be coming. Microsoft also wants to add new functionality to Office 365, including voice and touch-based interaction.
In essence though, Office 365 Personal is merely a cheaper version of the cloud-based service that has been a Microsoft flagship for several years now. A $30 price drop might actually be too slim to truly make waves among consumers, especially since the Home version of Office 365 will allow for five times the coverage of Personal for just 1.4 times the price. However, since other cloud-based word processing alternatives (Google Docs, for instance) have sprung up in recent years for free or cheap, Microsoft is undoubtedly feeling pressure to appeal to a more consumer-based audience.
SOURCE: Craig Manning