Aussies shafted on Office 365 pricing

Global software behemoth Microsoft has jacked up the prices of its flagship cloud productivity suite Office 365 for the service's launch in Australia, listing local prices up to 76 per cent higher than the United States.

Global software behemoth Microsoft has jacked up the prices of its flagship cloud productivity suite Office 365 for the service's launch in Australia, listing local prices up to 76 per cent higher than the United States.

Office 365 is Microsoft's answer to Google Apps. For a small monthly fee on a per-user basis, customers will be able to access a host of online services that mirror Microsoft's desktop software, ranging from a popular online version of its Outlook/Exchange collaboration suite, to online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, SharePoint, Lync and more.

However, Australians will pay a great deal more than US customers for the exact same software.

In the US, Microsoft will charge US$6 per month per user for the software — or US$72 a year. In Australian dollars, at current conversion rates, that fee would be AU$5.70. However, in Australia, Microsoft will charge customers AU$7.90 — that's 38.6 per cent higher than the equivalent US fee. And the mark-ups increase if you buy more complete Office 365 enterprise packages from Microsoft, with the third-tier package going for AU$40.10 per user per month, or 76 per cent more than the US$24 version.

Microsoft could not immediately comment on the price hike.

It's not the first time Microsoft has upped its prices for the exact same products sold in the US and in Australia. For example, when the company launched its Windows 7 operating system locally in late 2009, Australians paid between AU$50 and AU$150 more for the exact same software.

"Our prices vary by region and are determined based on a variety of market specific factors including, but not limited to exchange rate, local taxes, duties, local market conditions and retailer pricing decisions," Microsoft told ZDNet Australia at the time.

Locally, Office 365 will be delivered through Microsoft's partnership with Telstra, which will be the exclusive reseller of Office 365 to all Australian customers other than those who have an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft. Those enterprise customers will be able to order Office 365 directly.

The move positions Telstra and Optus squarely against each other when it comes to office productivity suites delivered online, with the SingTel subsidiary having recently inked a partnership with Google to sell the search giant's Google Apps product to customers.