Online Microsoft Office 365 to Debut June 28

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft sources have confirmed that the online edition of Microsoft Office, dubbed "Office 365," will officially launch June 28, 2011. The software package is designed to rival online services such as Google Apps.

The cost of using the service is rumored to be $72 per year for basic access, with a more featured business package at a currently unconfirmed higher price. (Source:

Cheaper Microsoft Office, Automatic Updates

To put that into context, the most basic version of Office (Home and Student) currently retails for $149.99 while a Home and Business Package (which offers Microsoft Outlook) goes for $279.99.

It is also possible for PC makers to include a locked version of the software on computers with the user then buying a product key, which cuts the cost to $119.99 and $199.99, respectively.

In comparison, desktop versions of Microsoft Office are a one-time fee, but don't cover any upgrades. The new Office 365 version is an annual subscription, but is expected to automatically update when the various applications involved (such as Microsoft Word and Excel) receive new features and editions.

Hardware Specifications Drop

One big benefit of Office 365 is that the software and the processing will be located on Microsoft's servers rather than on the user's machine.

In theory that means even people with low-spec machines (including netbooks) will be able to run the latest Office apps without any performance issues, as long as they have a decent and reliable Internet connection.

Business Users Mainly Targeted

However, it's business users who are the real target of the system, with Office 365 offering two main advantages. Firstly, there should be fewer IT headaches, as Office 365 doesn't require an installation on every employee's machine.

Secondly, the licensing system will be much more flexible: it will be possible to allow different users access to different applications depending on the type of work they do, with the company's total subscription fee adjusted automatically. (Source:

Microsoft Moves Release Date Up

Office 365 had been expected to launch later on this year, but competition from other online document services has pressured Microsoft to move the release date up. Google Apps has already won contracts to supply several government departments and agencies in the US and Microsoft may fear that this could cause a domino effect with other groups.

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