Microsoft's Cloud Oriented Office 365 Home Premium Touches Ground

Paul Lilly

Office 365 ushers in an era of subscription billing.

After months of beta testing, Microsoft on Tuesday announced the worldwide availability of Office 365 Home Premium . It's a departure from previous versions of Office, and while Microsoft likes to refer to Windows 8 as a reimagining of Windows, Office 365 is a "reinvention" of Redmond's popular Office product line for consumers. Unlike previous versions, Office 365 is a cloud-service.

An annual subscription runs $99.99, which breaks down to $8.34 per month, and allows you use to use Office 365 across up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs, and Macs. It also comes with extra SkyDrive storage (20GB) and Skype calling (60 minutes per month).

"Today’s launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft’s transformation to a devices and services business," said Steve Ballmer , CEO of Microsoft. "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."

One of the benefits of moving to the cloud is that new features and services stream to subscribers as soon as they are ready, rather than through periodic Service Packs or new releases. Subscribers are therefore always up to date without having to worry about applying upgrades.

Coinciding with Office 365 Home Premium is the release of Office 365 University for college or university students, faculty, and staff. The University release is offered at a reduced rate of $79.99 for a four-year subscription, which breaks down to $1.67 per month.

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