As expected, Microsoft is pricing its next-generation Office 2013 line-up in a way to try to convince users to pay an annual subscription fee -- with multiple-device-installation rights as a carrot -- instead of buying the Office 2013 software outright.
Microsoft is believed to be ready to launch its next-generation Office product within the next few weeks, possibly before the end of January. The newest version of Office -- known both as "the new Office" and "Office 2013" -- will be commercially available on that date. In preparation for the launch, Microsoft has been educating its reseller and integrator partners as to what to expect, pricing- and packaging-wise.
A chart detailing some of the expected Office 2013/New Office prices leaked in October 2012. When I asked Microsoft at the time (and a few times later) to confirm the prices, company officials declined to do so, leading some to speculate that the leaked pricing might not be final.
However, it turns out these prices for some of the "hero" Office 365 and Office 2013 SKUs, were, indeed, accurate. Microsoft shared this slide with some of its partners this week:
Everything here that is labeled as an Office 365 SKU will be priced on a subscription basis. The SKUs listed along the bottom are non-subscription, buy-once/install-on-a-single-device prices. (Microsoft officials disclosed the planned pricing for a few of its upcoming Office 365 SKUs last year.)
But as of now, we know for sure that Office Standard 2013 will be priced at $369 and Office Professional Plus 2013 at $499, based on this week's partner disclosure. (We already knew Home & Student 2013 would be $139 and Home & Business 2013 would be $219.)
The packages listed on the slide above are not an exhaustive list of the coming Office 2013/Office 365 SKUs. This looks to be the complete Office 2013 line-up, based on what I've seen updating lately as part of Patch Tuesday:
Microsoft released to manufacturing (RTM'd) its latest Office client and server products on October 11, 2012. Since that time, the Softies have made the final bits available to subscribers on MSDN, TechNet and its volume licensing center. The products still are not available commercially to those without access to those channels. But as of the upcoming launch, the new Office will be preloaded on certain new PCs and available for purchase commercially.
Microsoft also will start making its new Office services -- its updated Office Web Apps, Office 365 and its Microsoft-hosted Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online offerings -- at that time, officials have said.
The company is putting a heavy emphasis on convincing not just business customers, but also consumers, to go the subscription/service route, rather than purchasing a single copy of one or more Office products with perpetual-use licenses. On the consumer front, the Office team is trying to make it more enticing for users to pay a "rental" fee for the new Office, allowing them the right to download Office products locally on up to five PCs and Macs and use them for a year. This is what's known as Office 365 Home Premium.
On the business front, Microsoft also is trying to convince customers to go the service/subscription route. Microsoft officials said late last year the company would be offering a number of new Office 365 SKUs and pricing plans. These should become available simultaneously with the Office launch in late January.
In addition to the aforementioned Office 365 Home Premium, the new Office 365 SKUs, last we heard, includes:
Microsoft began preparing some of its Office 365 partners in earnest for the upcoming launch last week, providing them with guidance about how the company plans to update its cloud-hosted suite that competes with Google Apps.