Microsoft will begin selling the consumer version of their Office suite today, January 29, making it available via a subscription model and perpetual licenses.
The Office products have traditionally allowed consumers to buy the suite once and keep it forever, but Microsoft has made a change to that with its new subscription model. The subscription version, called Office 365 Home Premium, will cost $99.99 per household annually. The software is downloaded from a Microsoft data center and has a license that permits an installation on up to five Windows 7/Windows 8 PCs or tablets, and Mac OS computers. Multiple people in the household can use the suite, each with his or her own account.
There is also a perpetual license version, called Office Home and Student 2013, which can be installed on only one Windows or Mac OS computer and costs $139.99.
Meanwhile, the perpetually-licensed Office Home and Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013, will cost $219.99 and $399.99, respectively. They include the same applications as Home and Student 2013 but they add Outlook, and Office Professional 2013 also includes Publisher and Access.
Office 365 Home Premium includes extras such as 20 GB of SkyDrive online storage, 60 Skype world calling minutes per month, Publisher, Access, and Outlook.
Also announced with this product is the availability of Office 365 University, which is for university students, faculty, and staff, and can be installed on up to two Windows or Mac OS computers for a $79.99 four-year subscription and includes the same features as Office 365 Home Premium.
Microsoft plans to move away from the three-year release cycle their Office products currently has and instead update the suite regularly and push changes via the Internet.
"Today's launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft's transformation to a devices and services business," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "This is so much more than just another release of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits."
Microsoft plans to begin selling the Business editions of the new Office suite at the end of February 2013, and will have full details then.
For more information and a free 30-day trial of the new Office suite, check out Office.com.