I can't count the number of times I've heard people complain that Microsoft doesn't offer a single subscription service that covers both entertainment experiences like Xbox Live and Xbox Music and productivity experiences like Office 365. Well, now they do. And I'm curious to see how successful this is now that it's moved from fantasy to reality.
People, it's time to put your money where your mouth is.
Available only in the United States for now—start groaning, rest of the planet—the Microsoft Work & Play Bundle costs $199 per year and includes the following:
Office 365 Home. A $99.99 value in its own right, this provides access to unlimited OneDrive storage and 5 installs of full desktop Office 2013 on five PCs and/or Macs each for five people in a family.
Skype Unlimited World + Wi-Fi. Normally $13.99 per month ($167.88 per year), this service lets you make unlimited calls from Skype on PCs, tablets and phones to landlines in 63 countries around the world.
Xbox Live Gold. Normally $59.99 per year.
Xbox Music Pass. This all-you-can eat streaming music service normally costs $99.99 per year.
Add all that up and you come to about $425, so $199 is an incredible value.
Maybe too incredible. This offer appears to be temporary, in the sense that it's clearly a market test to see how successful it really is. This is smart, because I'm not honestly sure the demand is there. And given how easily the complaints flow from Microsoft's always-disgruntled user base, I expect people to ask about a version of this that doesn't include one of the services for less, etc. We're never happy.
According to Microsoft, the Work & Play Bundle "offer" is valid from November 10, 2014 until January 4, 2015, or while supplies last, whatever that means. It's available in "select Microsoft full line retail stores in the United States only." You cannot purchase it electronically.