Office 365 and 2013 Arriving in March

Microsoft's new Office products will launch this March, according to the company.

The "new Office" includes Office 2013, with its traditional perpetual licensing, and Office 365, with its monthly subscription-based licensing. Some new Office 2013 products were also available to Microsoft volume licensing customers as early as December. All of the new editions will be available in March for both for businesses and consumers, in a mind-boggling array of licensing options.

Office 365 subscriptions are licensed per user on up to five devices, while Office 2013 perpetual licenses are licensed per device for a single use. Perpetual licenses never expire and are based on an up-front payment. In contrast, the right to use Office ends when a user stops paying the recurring Office 365 subscription fees. Another difference is that Office 365 users get the latest software updates delivered to them on a more-frequent basis. Office 365 subscribers also have the rights to use Office for Mac 2011 if they wish.

Cloud and Storage
The new Office is notable for having a more touch-optimized Ribbon UI. Depending on the edition purchased, there also are cloud-enabled perks for end users. However, despite the Office 365 cloud marketing by Microsoft, all of the Office products get installed on the customer's premises. It's a misconception that the new Office suites run from the cloud, or from Microsoft's servers.

Office on Demand, a feature available through some Office 365 plans, is the closest thing to a truly cloud-delivered Office suite. It uses Microsoft "click-to-stream" technology (based on App-V) to install a temporary copy of Office on any machine. After an Office session ends, most of the installed bits get automatically wiped from the machine.

The Microsoft SkyDrive cloud-based storage service is available to both Office 365 and Office 2013 users. When SkyDrive is used in conjunction with a Microsoft account (formerly known as a Windows Live ID), document synchronization can be enabled. A user can edit a document at work and then resume the editing at home. When it's opened at home, the synced document will point the user to the last-edited page.

Microsoft had announced back in July plans to introduce SkyDrive Pro for business users. SkyDrive Pro works with both the SharePoint Online service or a premises-installed SharePoint 2013 server and enables capabilities such as "social networking, collaboration, search, metadata, workflow and compliance," according to Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of SharePoint, Microsoft. It's available as part of some Office 365 subscriptions.

SkyDrive Pro is both a client solution and a SharePoint-enabled service, except with better security, according to Wes Miller, an analyst with Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft. "There are going to be some enhancements [in SkyDrive Pro] that, for an organization that cares about security, are a far, far better approach than saying, 'Hey everybody, just use Dropbox, just use SkyDrive,'" Miller says. "Going with SharePoint Online and going with SkyDrive Pro for the synchronization/sharing experience is going to be a really interesting solution."

Apps Abound
Some Office 365 offerings come with use rights for Office Web Apps, which are browser-based versions of Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word. Office Web Apps aren't full-featured products, but they're improving. They'll tap into a new Office Web Apps Server, which is a single infrastructure supporting Exchange, SharePoint and Lync services, according to Miller. "It's this separate infrastructure, and you can scale it up pretty easily if you want to have another server," Miller says. "But, more important, Microsoft can now service the Web Apps separately without requiring a SharePoint service pack. So we probably will see a revision of the Office Web Apps far faster than we have in the past."

Microsoft also is building up a developer community around "apps for Office," which are Web-based applications that complement an Office Web App or an Office client application. Microsoft describes an app for office as a Web page hosted within the Office client. The apps are designed to extend Office suite functionality and can run on the client, in a browser, on-premises in a server or in the cloud.

Will customers move to this totally cloud-based Office that's emerging in the future? It's not likely any time soon, according to Miller. "I think we're going to slowly see it moving more toward a truly streamed experience," he says.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Nov 7, 2013 Journey UTO INSURANCE DOT

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 Robert Scarborough Canada

Microsoft’s guidance on when to expect and plan for the Office 365 Upgrade: “Sometime in 2013” Twelve Month window! Unbelievable. The only people who don’t understand why MS is getting their butt kicked by Google, Apple and Amazon are inside the walls of Microsoft.

Tue, Feb 26, 2013

Interesting comment in here that may help with more info on Office365

Sun, Feb 10, 2013

Those of us who launched Office 365 will have to wait for Office 2013 till un undisclosed date in the future. Thats only fair because we only pay 2 - 3 times more per year than new subscribers with an individual Office 365 license.

Fri, Feb 8, 2013 John

"Another difference is that Office 365 users get the latest software updates delivered to them on a more-frequent basis." -- Um, no as a 365 E3 subscriber, Office 2013 is not available to me. So I would say that is less frequent then volume license subscribers since they got it at the end of last year. "Office 365 subscribers also have the rights to use Office for Mac 2011 if they wish." -- Um, no again. I have a closed service request where I asked how to access this. While Office 365 is "compatible" with Office for Mac. We do not have the rights to download and install it as we do with Office 2010 Professional Plus for Windows.

Thu, Feb 7, 2013

This is a total cluster! Office 365 Home is available to all and Enterprise users of 365 2010 who have been paying all along are seemingly the last to be updated, Nice. Ohhh that there was some decent competition for products. The arrogance of MS to screw the early adopters of 365 2010 is incredible.

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