Microsoft announces Office 2013 prices and packaging

For the upcoming release of Office 2013, Microsoft customers will have to choose between traditional software and Office 365 subscriptions. Here's what's in store.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft officially announced pricing and packaging details for Office 2013 today.

For Office customers, especially home and small business users, there are some surprises. In fact, you might need an Excel spreadsheet to do the upgrade math.

As previously reported, Office 2013 will come in two new subscription-based editions, both of which are in free public trials now.

Office 365 Home Premium includes the complete lineup of programs found in Office Professional 2010, the most expensive retail version today: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. For $100 per year you get a “household license,” which allows you to install and use the software on up to five PCs or Macs and on “select smartphones and tablets.” There’s no limit on the number of users who can use those five PCs or Macs.

Office 365 Small Business Premium includes the same collection of apps and adds Lync and InfoPath, making it equivalent to the current Office Professional Plus 2010, which is available in a traditional package only through volume licensing programs. These subscriptions are sold on a per-user basis, at $150 per user per year, with each subscriber getting the right to use the software on up to five PCs or Macs and on “select smartphones and tablets.”

(Although both subscription types includes the right to use Office for the Mac, that doesn't mean you should expect a new Office package for the Mac. For now, the Office 2013 license includes usage rights for Office 2011 for the Mac.)

To sweeten the deal, the two subscription editions come with extras that aren’t included with the shrink-wrapped software packages:

  • Home Premium subscribers get 60 Skype minutes a month and 20 GB of extra SkyDrive storage (in addition to the free 7 GB) for the primary user account.
  • Small Business Premium customers get hosted Exchange through Office 365, with a 25 GB mailbox and shared calendars, and a total of 10 GB of SharePoint storage for the organization, plus an additional 500 MB of SharePoint storage per user. The Lync software also allows free HD video conferencing and screen sharing.

The way that subscriptions are delivered means up to five devices can have the Office 2013 programs installed for online and offline use. A feature called Office on Demand allows you to use the same apps on a PC that isn't one of your regular five devices, streaming a version of Word or Excel or another Office app when you need it to edit a document or spreadsheet, without permanently installing the software.

If you’re queasy about subscriptions, you can still buy the traditional versions of Office 10, which use a device-based licensing model. Each license gives you the right to install the software on a single PC, and your usage rights are perpetual and don’t require any ongoing payments.

For Office 2013, the lineup of packages available through retail channels remains the same, but Microsoft is bumping prices significantly. (The following list uses suggested selling prices as published by Microsoft; you can typically find significant discounts through resellers.)

  • Office Home & Student, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, will cost $140, up 17% from the current $120.
  • Office Home & Business, which includes the above apps plus Outlook, will go for $220, up 10% from the current price of $200.
  • Office Professional, which includes the above apps plus Access and Publisher, goes up to $400, a 14% bump from the current sticker price of $350.

The per-PC licensing model is stricter in this release. If you want to install the traditional versions of Office 2013 on multiple PCs, you’ll need to buy separate licenses for each one. Office 2013 offers no multi-copy discounts for traditional packaged software as Office 2010 does.

Today’s announcement didn’t include any details about when the software will be released, and Microsoft declined to comment on release dates when I asked.

So what does it all mean? I do the math in What you gain and lose with Office 2013 subscriptions...

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