Microsoft defends Office 365 subscription, servicing model

Microsoft defends Office 365 subscription, servicing model

Summary: What's Microsoft done lately for Office 365 ProPlus subscribers? A new Microsoft blog post provides some answers to that very question.


A recent report from earlier this week claimed that Microsoft "hasn't given consumers much reason to renew Office." The CITEworld story, focused on Office 365 Home Premium, claimed that Microsoft has added almost no new features or functionality during the past year to the offering, making renewals less attractive.


While I personally consider additions like support for Office Mobile on iPhones and Android phones to count as a "feature," I think it's fair to say that Microsoft officials haven't made it clear what they've done to update the locally installable 2013 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that are part of Office Home Premium.

On the business side of the house, Microsoft execs also haven't said much in the past year about the updates and improvements they've made to the full suite of Office 2013 apps that those with an Office 365 Professional Plus (Office ProPlus) subscription have received over the past year.

But a January 21 Office IT Pro blog post (part one of a two parter) clarifies the "what did Microsoft do for me lately with Office" situation considerably.

First things first: What is Office 365 ProPlus? It's not a Web-based version of Office, but it is the full collection of Microsoft's Office apps -- Access, Excel, InfoPath, Lync, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word -- sold as a monthly Office 365 subscription. These apps all are meant to be installed on users' local computers using Microsoft's Click-to-Run technology. (Apps can be installed on up to five different computers with a single Office 365 license.)

The new January 21 post highlights a number of frequently asked questions about the Automatic Updates functionality in Office 365 ProPlus. Office 365 ProPlus is configured by default to automatically update monthly from the cloud and install updates when Office apps and processes aren't running.

A couple of highlights from the FAQ:

  • Microsoft is planning to provide SP1 for Office 2013 as a monthly build/update to Office 365 ProPlus users later this year. ("Early 2014," last we heard.)
  • The next "major" version of Office ("Office 16"?) also will be delivered to Office 365 ProPlus subscribers as a monthly build/update.
  • Each monthly build/update that Microsoft delivers automatically to Office 365 ProPlus users "may contain security updates, non-security updates, and functionality improvements." There's a list of changes that Microsoft made to each build on this Microsoft Support site. Microsoft will not allow separate security and non-security updates; they are intertwined -- something it sounds like a number of IT users have complained about, based on the FAQ.
  • All updates are cumulative, so each build contains all the other changes from previous builds.
  • Office 365 ProPlus updates are not provided via Windows Update.
  • Users can opt to test Office 365 ProPlus updates before approving them for deployment.

The full FAQ is worth a read.

Topics: Cloud, Collaboration, IT Priorities, Microsoft, IT Policies


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • That other article totally misses the point of Office 365 Home Premium

    because I get the ProPlus version of Office 2013 for 5 computers, which adds way more than the simple Home & Student version of Office 2010. So their article is pretty much useless.
    • Also

      The Office 365 subscription was supposed to get enhancements that Office 2013 users wouldn't get, plus automatic upgrades to the newer versions, when they arrive.

      The additions of Home Premium, with Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher, OneNote and Access, plus extra SkyDrive space and an hour of worldwide Skype Out per month made the subscription model very attractive for me.

      No matter what subscription model you have.

      They only bigger scam than Office 365, in my non-humble opinion, is the Nigerian 419.

      I own Office 2007 and I have 2013 installed on my Win 8 machine.

      The only thing that has changed significantly is the UI, in order to justify repaying MS for the same program, iteration after iteration, over the last 20-years.

      I hope consumers finally wake up and stop the madness!
      • Maybe for your use case

        Office 365 does not make sense as you are only using a single license. However, for households that have multiple computers and need more than 1 license, Office 365 is the way to go.
        • built your own office 365

          Instead of installing office on each PC. We install it on a cloud server and access it from there. The solution we use Aikotech ThinServer is simple and cheap
          • And probably not legal...

          • Exactly...

            Yeah quite useless to pay for software at all if you break the rules anyway... The sanctions would be the same.

            But what comes to the original hate message about 2013 compared to 2007... Well 2013 DOES have tons of new stuff, especially ease-of-use and cloud stuff. Not to mention better looking documents by default.
      • not so fast ...

        Somehow I believe Outlook 2007 can only hold 1 exchange account, as opposed to 2010 and 2013, which can have more exchange accounts. That's actually a big difference.
  • Metro included?

    I have an Office 365 subscription and I'm wondering if the Metro versions of Office apps will be included when they are ready?
    Sir Name
    • Metro-Style Office apps (Gemini)

      Hi. I am betting they will be included as part of the subscription. (Who knows.. maybe free for Win 8 users?)

      MS still isn't talking at all about pricing/licensing/ship targets for Gemini beyond saying they are due some time this year. Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • one would hope so...

        otherwise it would make a mockery of the whole Office 365 service.
  • What they haven't done...

    I'll tell you what they haven't done. Outlook 2013 is a CONTACT manager, and it fails at it's most basic task, searching for contacts. Read this post on the MS Forums. Posts like these that have over 5,000 page views for a reason, go ignored. Sure there may be a fix on the way, but they won't tell you if there is, and they won't acknowledge that there is quite obviously an issue. For the price of the subscription, I would like to see fixes for glaring lacks in basic functionality like the ones outlined in this popular forum post.
    • And therein lies the problem

      Microsoft's business model for MS Office (insert version here) is still pretty much the same. It is a three step approach:

      1. - Market Office Suite to vertical markets
      2. - Add complexity to pricing model
      3. - Get the money

      After that everything has always been hit or miss, flying with little regard for those along on the ride.

      I keep hearing that MS Office is the "must have" office suite but everyone I know who uses it is either using an old outdated version or complaining about how poorly they are treated after they shell out the big bucks.

      I use Libre Office and get regular updates. The total cost of ownership is quite low and headaches are minimum.
      • LibreOffice is okay.

        However, it's still pretty weak compared to Office, as it's missing a few essentials like replacements for OneNote and Publisher (Draw is not a good replacement for either).

        Additionally, Writer's UI seems to have been taken directly from Word 2003, which may or may not be a good thing.

        Still, Office is a long-term investment. I paid for it in 2004, and after 10 years, I'm using the 2010 variant.

        I don't know anyone complaining about "how poorly they are treated after they shell out the big bucks", simply because most of the people I know who own Office use it on a daily business (many of them are teachers).

        Still, although LibreOffice is fine for casual users, it lacks the "polish" that Office has. It gets random hangs, runs into compatibility issues, and is relatively disorganized.

        Good for some, but not for all.
        • the low point in LibreOffice is ...

          a missing Outlook!
          ... sorry to say that, bcs otherwise I like Libre very much
  • After 2 patched my tablet ran out of ssd disk space

    The problem MicroKlunk needs to fix first is their bloat disk space hijacking, especially on tablets.

    Needless to say I switched to a Linux office replacement suite that uses 50 times less bloatware and subsequently far less disk space just so I could keep using my tablet.

    Does anyone have a brain at Mafiasoft?
    • Oh, that's who you were.

      Did you get banned, ITJohnguru, or is Luke-IT just one of your sock puppets?

      What kind of Office Suite is 60 MB in size? Even LibreOffice lists 1.5 GB as the recommended space needed.

      Are you using Notepad++ to write documents or something?
      • notepad++ is actually a very nice thing to use

        it shows line numbers too!
  • Welcome to the world of software as a utility...

    This is like asking what has your power or cable company done for you lately. I am not sure why the expectations of Office 365 subscribers would be that they should get some value for their money each year (other than the use of the software), when users who have paid full price for Office has suffered this same fate for many years. An expensive suite of products that are only really updated every three years or so.
    • What's new in Office 365

      Windowseat: people expect new features because that was one of the selling points that MS made. They promised to release new features for 365, implying these new features would be exclusive to 365.

      MJF: what I would like to see, and have been asked for is a single link to a page that lists all of the NEW features added to 365 since release. I don't want to have to play hide and seek through a bunch of KB monthly articles to extract an unofficial version of that information. I NEED a single page (or portal page) that documents all of the new features rolled out to 365.