Microsoft won't deliver Office 365 updates for new business users until February

Microsoft isn't making its business-focused Office 365 plans available to customers until February, a month after it launches the consumer-focused Home Premium version.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

On January 29, as expected, Microsoft began shipping two key components of the "New Office": Its Office 2013 packages and Office 365 Home Premium subscription service.


But new customers who are waiting on the other refreshed Office 365 plans with all the latest features -- the Small Business, Midsize Business and new Enterprise offerings -- have to wait until February 27 for them to begin rolling out.

Microsoft officials have been saying for the past few months that the refreshed Office 365 would be available in the first quarter of 2013. My understanding was that all elements of the New Office -- the packaged applications and the refreshed Office 365 services -- would be available simultaneously as of "launch."

Today is the launch of the New Office. But the only two "services" pieces that are available for purchase are Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University. Both of these are collections of locally installable Office 2013 applications that Microsoft is offering via subscription plans. Office 365 Home Premium is available for $8.33 a month, or $99.99 a year. Office 365 University (for college/university students, faculty and staff) is available for $79.99 for a four-year subscription.

All of the business-facing SKUs will be out on February 27, officials said on January 29, meaning both the refreshed existing Office 365 SKUs and the brand-new Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 Midsize.

Here's a list of the coming Office 365 plans and their expected pricing, as Microsoft has explained them to its reseller partners. (The top set of figures on this chart are the subscription/Office 365 prices and the bottom set are the prices for the packaged/boxed products.)




Unlike the case with Windows Intune, Microsoft is delivering the latest refreshed Office 365 bits to existing subscription customers weeks ahead of when new users can get them. (Existing Intune users can't get the "Wave D" update until February 2013, while new users have been able to get it since December 2012.)

Microsoft has been prepping its reseller partners for months for the Office 365 launch. Volume licensees have been able to get the latest Office client and servers -- the 2013 versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync -- since October/November 2012. And current Office 365 Enterprise customers have been able to get the latest refreshed bits since October 2012.

Office 365 is Microsoft's competitor to Google Apps. It (primarily) is Microsoft-hosted versions of its business server products sold to users as a subscription. With the addition of Office 365 Home Premium, Microsoft added to its Office 365 family something that's quite different: Locally installabe apps that are sold on a subscription basis. 


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