Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled the name of its next Office package. (The press release is here; follow the links in the sidebar to download Word documents containing details about pricing and packaging.)
The new name - Office 2007 - isn't a surprise. Nor is the mix of applications that make up the business-oriented SKUs. But one of the bundles jumps off the list because it's just so different. And I think I know why.
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 is the successor to Office Student and Teacher Edition. The new name reflects the reality that this low-cost edition (estimated retail price of $149, street price typically $120) is priced for budget-conscious buyers who can't charge the cost of the software to their business. Although the exact license terms aren't in the press release, this edition will probably adhere to the same conditions as its predecessor, which can be installed and activated on up to three computers and specifically prohibits upgrades or any business-related use.
So what's different? Office 2003 Student and Teacher Edition was essentially identical to Office 2003 Standard Edition, with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook in the box. For the 2007 release, Outlook is out and OneNote is in.
This packaging decision is baffling for two reasons.
- This is the only one of the new Office versions that doesn't include Outlook. Even the bare-bones Office Basic includes Outlook. Does Microsoft think that its home customers don't want a full-featured personal information manager? Do they think that Outlook is somehow too complex for home users?
- This is also the only Office version that includes OneNote. The implication, I guess, is that Microsoft has decided to position OneNote as a student tool and downplay its usefulness to business users.
In the 2003 editions, there is a clear upgrade path from every edition. The Basic edition includes Outlook, Word, and Excel. If you pay extra to get the Standard edition, you get those applications plus PowerPoint. Upgrade to the Small Business Edition and you get Publisher and Outlook's Business Contact Manager add-in. Go one step further to Office Professional and you get all that plus Access. The mix of products in each edition is a superset of the previous edition.
The new line-up doesn't offer any of these clean upgrade paths. If you're a home user who wants Outlook, you'll have to pay extra for it. Likewise, if you want OneNote at work, you can only get it as a supplement. Update: As Milly Staples points out in the comments, OneNote is included with the Enterprise Edition; that's only available with Volume License copies, however, meaning it's not an option for small businesses and retail buyers.
In fact, there is only one explanation that makes sense here. How many small businesses do you think were paying $120 for up to three licensed installations of Office 2003 Student and Teacher Edition instead of paying $299 for each copy of the otherwise identical Standard edition? By cutting Outlook, Microsoft eliminates one of the core applications for business users and removed the incentive to cheat on the license terms.
Unfortunately, home users who want to take advantage of Outlook are the ones who pay for that decision.
Update: Microsoft has published a chart that shows the contents of each Office 2007 version.