Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) seems to enjoy confusing the world by adding more and more 'differentiated' options for its Office 365 suite. The additional editions bring the number offered for businesses to nine, not to mention all the other ones for education, government, and consumers.
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Juan Carlos Perez reportz:
The components of the Office 365 suites...are getting upgraded to the latest 2013 code base. ... In addition, Microsoft is introducing three new configurations.
Office 365 ProPlus...includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath, Access and Lync. ... Office 365 Small Business Premium, aimed at organizations with 1 to 10 employees, includes Office ProPlus, along with Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online. ... Office 365 Midsize Business...adds a basic set of IT administration controls [and] phone support. ... These three new editions join an existing six others for businesses, as well as several...for educational institutions and government agencies.
[Microsoft] acknowledged that the move to cloud-based software is a journey for many customers, so [it] will continue providing and maintaining the on-premise versions. MORE
And Steven D. Jones adds:
Microsoft has improved [it] quarterly since it appeared in 2011. This time [it] will incorporate features of its recently acquired Yammer social networking utility [and] Skype.
Microsoft will offer pricing as low as $4 per user per month...the new premium service for small businesses will cost $12.50 [which] brackets the cost of $5 per user per month for Google Apps. ... This week, Google is hosting 400 resellers of Google Apps and other services...in what the company is billing as its first-ever partner summit with the goal of winning more and bigger deals away from Office 365. MORE
But Yardena Arar is "puzzled":
Microsoft...now offers a whopping ten different...subscription options. ...organizations have multiple alternatives for obtaining Office 2013 desktop apps, for PCs and Macs. ... Microsoft has succeeded in further muddying the waters for would-be customers with these last-minute additions. ...the number of different subscription plans is daunting.
As for the desktop, nonsubscription editions of Office, Microsoft last month began selling three stand-alone versions. ... Not only can you not install [it] on more than one PC or Mac, but you can never move it to another PC or Mac even if you uninstall it. ... The license is tied to the computer—a new restriction. MORE
So, "What’s a small business to do?" asks Paul Thurrott:
...the Office 365 services have expanded pretty dramatically. ... There’s a lot going on...it has differentiated offerings that span its entire customer range.
Office 365 Small Business Premium, like...Home Premium, represents a particularly good deal...especially when you factor in the benefits of quarterly updates[and] of such a full-featured Office version. MORE
Meanwhile, Ed Bott notes the 'cheapskate' option:
Over the past few years, Microsoft has steadily improved its free Office Web Apps to the point where they represent a credible threat to ... Microsoft Office.
[It] pass[es] the "good enough" test for casual home and student use, and even for most simple business documents. ... I'm impressed by what I see in the latest Office Web Apps. Although...technically web apps, they feel like desktop programs, with snappy performance and a real user interface. ...when you open a document in the Word Web App, it feels like you're running Word.
By contrast, Google's interface is downright Spartan. MORE