Microsoft Office 2013 a Pricey Alternative to Google
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
July 17 2012 11:03 AM ET
Microsoft's new Office products may leave some scratching their heads, wondering why people would pay to sync their documents online when Google Docs already does it for free. The simple answer: familiarity.
"Most consumers are creatures of habit, and they don't want to go out and learn a new system," Stephen Butler of the research firm NPD told TechNewsDaily. "Most believe they need Microsoft Office."
Microsoft yesterday (July 16) released a trial version of Office 2013, its updated productivity suite, along with a subscription service called Office 365 Home Premium that syncs files with the cloud. Essentially, the subscription service unlocks the syncing function, so people can access their files online and sync them between multiple PCs, Macs, or both. However, the Office 2013 software can be installed only on Macs, PCs running Windows 7, and Windows mobile devices — no earlier versions of Windows or Android or iOS devices. Microsoft did not mention plans for an iPad-compatible Office product, dashing the hopes spurred by recent rumors.
No prices were mentioned for either product. Unlike Office 2010 and older versions, 2013 will come with five licenses instead of one, so buyers can install it on multiple devices. Butler said he anticipates that Office 2013 will cost the same as Office 2010, in the neighborhood of $100 - $120. (A $150 version of Office 2010 can run on up to three devices.) As for the 365 add-on, he declined to guess how much Microsoft would charge. However, the company charges businesses $6 per subscriber per month for use of its current 365 service, so the subscription for home users could be around $72 a year.
Syncing desktop files online is not new to Microsoft. Office 2010 let users upload their files to SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage. However, the process is laborious. The addition of 365 should be a big improvement. The twin package will also offer instant messaging, Skype calls, 20GB of SkyDrive storage and social media integration — a lot like the free Google Drive (the new name for its Docs suite) and Gmail with its chat, Google Voice calls (a Skype-like service) and tie-in with the Google+ social network.
Office 2013 does offer a bit more flexibility with input. In addition to a touch interface designed to be used with Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8, and traditional mouse and keyboard input, Office supports a stylus, so users can take pen-style notes on compatible devices.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to the new products is their support for touch screens and cloud-based use — two trends growing in popularity. Microsoft Office users won't be left behind.
If you're curious, you can download a preview version from Microsoft as long as you're running Windows 7. The full versions of Office 2013 and 365 could be released as early as this fall when Microsoft launches Windows 8 devices.