Office 365 marks the demise of Office package

Microsoft updates Office 365 and Office 2013, as it continues its transition from a software provider to a services and hardware company

Microsoft has updated Office 365 and Office 2013, as the company continues its transition from software provider to a services and hardware company.

Commenting on the launch, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: “Transforming from a software maker to a devices and services company requires us to make big, bold bets and push our business in new directions.”

He said this is the first version of Office where consumers can subscribe to the product as a service through Office 365 instead of purchasing the package as a piece of software to install from a CD or DVD. 

“The new Office subscription is an entirely new way to think about the productivity experience with entirely new benefits," said Steve Ballmer. "Over time, the majority of the billion-plus people using Office will be using the Office 365 service.”

In fact, unlike previous Office releases, Microsoft has played down the standalone Office 2013 launch.

Ballmer claimed businesses users were starting to buy Office via the subscription service. 

“Since we launched Office 365 for businesses only 18 months ago, one in five of our enterprise customers now has the service, up from one in seven a year ago.”

He claimed Microsoft had seen a 150% increase in the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) using the service over the past 12 months. These businesses will gain access to the latest Office 365 service for businesses from 27 February.

Office 365 Home Premium includes integrated Skype offering 60 minutes of free calls, plus 20GB of storage via SkyDrive for annual fee of £79.99. 

“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,” Ballmer added.

As Computer Weekly has previously reported, for businesses, moving from on-premise to cloud-based office productivity and email, is a minefield in terms of legal issues.  Multinationals and public sector organisations will need to consider how Office 365 works in the context of local data privacy laws.

Read more on Cloud computing services