Office 365, Office 2013 Released for Home, Business Waits

Office 365, Office 2013 Released for Home, Business Waits

Yesterday, Microsoft released Office 2013, Office 365 Home Premium, and Office 365 University—a significant chunk of the “Wave 15” Microsoft Office portfolio. But business and enterprise plans of Office 365 are on hold for another month.

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The general availability milestone for consumers means that Office 2013 is more officially in the wild, now. This is just one of many milestones, and there are many thousands of individuals—myself included—who have been using Office 2013 for months, whether through MSDN, TechNet, or Microsoft volume licenses, or through the suite’s inclusion on the Surface. Many thousands—myself included again—have also been working with the new version of Office 365 through preview accounts obtained during the Consumer Preview period, or through Enterprise plans.

This week, I’ll share some of the details and resources related to this release, which in my opinion is a “no brainer” for certain scenarios—especially for those of us who are the tech support for our FFANs (Friends & Family Area Networks). I’ll also address some of the rumors about the impact today’s release has on your business and your users (read: licensing!). Next week, I’ll cover and clarify the dizzying array of Office 365 offerings for business.

For those playing the “Where in the world is Dan?” game, I’m in London this week, speaking at the SharePoint User Group UK on Thursday. I fly to lovely Copenhagen on Friday for the European SharePoint Conference where I will deliver my new SharePoint 2013 Collaboration MasterClass, a keynote with Christian Buckley, and three governance sessions.

Due to this week’s Office release news, I’m going to put off sharing the next chapter in my Facebook Catfish saga which, by the way, Facebook has yet to address adequately! (MAJOR #FAIL in protecting their users!)

So, on a brighter note, the release of the stunning Office 365 and Office 2013 applications!


On January 29, Microsoft announced the general availability of Office 365 Home Premium, Office 365 University, and three editions of the Office 2013 client applications. You can read Microsoft’s Press Release and Paul Thurrott’s coverage of the story. Mary Jo Foley also has several stories related to the release.

In the same announcement, Microsoft revealed that business offerings of Office 365 will be released on February 27. It is my understanding that existing subscribers will be able to upgrade before new subscriptions are taken, so February 27 may be one date or the other.

Rather than rehash all the details that my peers have published, I’d like to boil it down to help you understand the key differences between offerings.

Let’s start with the products that are most familiar to us all: the client applications. Microsoft released Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013. Each of these traditional client application suites are deployed as local installations of Microsoft Office, “old school” setup.exe style. Each edition includes a subset of the Office client applications. It’s easiest to understand them by the deltas:

  • Office Home and Student 2013 ($139.99 US) includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. The license allows “home use” which, broadly speaking, covers the “home” and “student” scenarios, but does not allow commercial, for-profit use. The 2010 version allowed installation on up to three PCs, and was transferrable. Now, in 2013, the “old school application” license is for one PC only and, according to some reports [I’ve not had time to dive into the legalese of the license] is not transferable.
  • Office Home and Business 2013 ($219.99 US) adds Outlook for the additional $80.00. Still one PC. However, this version is licensed for home and business use.
  • Office Professional 2013 ($399.99) adds Publisher and Access, on one PC, for home and business use.

Then there are the volume license versions of Office, aimed at businesses with more than five users. These are still “local software” client applications, available through volume license channels:

  • Office Standard 2013
  • Office Professional Plus 2013

You can read the details on the differences between these suites.

There’s been a lot of noise about how much more expensive Office 2013 is compared to Office 2010, particularly for individuals (home and student). Yes… but ONLY if you’re wanting a boxed set of software, which is “so 2010.” Check out the value-add if you evolve to Office 365!!

  • Office 365 Home Premium ($99.99 per year, which is $8.33 per month) includes all of the aforementioned applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Publisher, and Access) [not InfoPath as far as I can tell], 20GB of extra SkyDrive storage (on top of the 7GB you can get for free), roaming settings, 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month, and Office On Demand. All of this can be used on up to five PCs, Macs, or other devices, for any users in the household. Paul Thurrott has a great review of Office 365 Home Premium.
  • Office 365 University ($79.99 for a four-year subscription) includes everything in Home Premium, but can be activated on only two PCs, by one user, who must be a full- or part-time student or faculty of an accredited institution. This plan isn’t getting a lot of spotlight by my peers and is pretty amazing. You can read more about it at the Microsoft site.

What’s the catch with Office 365 Home Premium? Why so cheap? It’s an annual subscription. That means more predictable revenue streams for Microsoft, and a tighter bond with customers, who will now be upgraded automatically and therefore will be (in theory) less likely to leave for a competing service.

There’s no guarantee that the price won’t increase over the years, but as it stands it has the potential to offer “no-brainer” savings to certain types of users. If you are one or more of the following:

  • a family with at least 2-3 devices
  • a university or college student
  • someone who likes to keep up with new features and releases (which will increasingly be available much earlier if not solely in Office 365)
  • a user of Skype will benefit from a few dollars a month of savings on Skype
  • a user of Dropbox or another for-fee cloud storage provider that you can reduce or drop
  • a user of a for-fee mail service that you can leave for Office 365; or someone who is ready for the high levels of storage and support offered by Office 365

Office 365 Home Premium or University makes great economic sense. I know that’s certainly not applicable to everyone, but it is to some. Paul Thurrott presents a concise analysis of the differences and the economic value of each of the new offerings.

There are a couple of issues you need to understand and consider as a consumer and as an IT professional.

OFFICE ON DEMAND is the new name for the “streaming” version of Office 2013. It has been called Office ProPlus up til now. I believe that branding has disappeared, thankfully, since even I was baffled by the similarity of “ProPlus” (Streaming) and “Professional Plus” (volume license, local installation). If you haven’t experienced Office On Demand yet, you must give it a try. It’s astonishing. Using App-V deployment technologies, you can log on to any Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer that has never seen an Office installation before, click a button, and within seconds, you can be working on a document in your favorite Office application. The application continues to install locally, while you work [too cool and too complicated to detail here], and is available offline, and can be installed side-by-side with other previous versions of Office (i.e. 2010 and 2013 on the same computer). The scenarios include working on a library or internet café computer.

Another under-emphasized point is that Office Web Apps means you can really work from almost any computer, at least to the extent of the feature set of Office Web Apps. In their latest iteration, they’re amazingly feature rich—certainly an 80/20 solution, and they’re only going to get better as they’re clearly of strategic importance to Microsoft.

Office 365 Home Premium is licensed for home use, which means that you cannot legally use your applications for business purposes [though there is no technical roadblock to you doing so]. However, there are several relatively straightforward options for companies to procure legal licenses that can be transferred to you, allowing you to use your Home Premium licensed Office applications for work, too. For details, read Ed Bott’s coverage; just realize that the discussion applies only to Office 365 Home Premium. The “old school” editions of Home and Business and Professional can be used for work, no problem.

If you let your subscription expire, you won’t lose your data without working hard to do so. The details are covered elsewhere, including by Mary Jo Foley, but bottom line is you’ll have read access to files on your SkyDrive (which means you can copy them locally and keep them forever) and you’ll be able to view (but not edit) files in Office applications that have expired, for a reasonable period of time, before your “extra” SkyDrive storage is reduced back to the 7GB baseline, and before the subscription-licensed installations of your apps expire completely. So “keep calm and back up.”

Next week, I’ll turn my attention to the latest information about the dizzying array of options for business, government, and academic customers. There’s actually an unusual amount of noise and confusion, so I think next week’s piece will help a lot of folks!

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