Microsoft confirms SMB subscription pricing for new Office

Microsoft HQ

Small businesses will have to stump up $12.50 per user per month to access the premium version of Microsoft's new cloud-focused Office productivity suite, the software giant has confirmed.

The vendor took the wraps off the latest incarnation of its Office software suite back in July, which for the first time will save documents users create to the cloud by default.

At the time, Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer, hinted that the firm was finding it difficult to agree on a price point for the new release, which is being offered as a cloud service and a packaged product.

Users also have the flexibility to change their five devices at any time.

However, Microsoft has now confirmed the pricing for the consumer and SMB versions of Office, which are available on a per month or per year subscription service.

The Office 365 Small Business Premium subscription is designed for use by organisations with between one and 10 employees, and will cost them $149.99 per user per year.

In exchange for this, each user will get access to the full gamut of Office products including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher and Lync and will have the option of using them on up to five PCs or Mac computers.

"Users also have the flexibility to change their five devices at any time, and full featured Office applications are available for temporary use on any PC," said Microsoft in a blog post.

SMBs will also be offered access to a 25GB Outlook mailbox, 10 GB of cloud storage, as well as an additional 500 MB of space for each user.

Home users can also purchase a single Premium subscription to cover five PCs and Macs. This will allow them to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher for $8.33 per month or $99.99 a year.

People that sign up to this plan will also receive an extra 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage a month, on top of the 7GB that Microsoft gives them for free, as well as 60 free minutes of Skype calls a month.

"Premium licenses are always up-to-date with latest new features and services released regularly," said the Microsoft blog.

"With the new Office, new capabilities will be added multiple times a year."

The Home Premium subscription plan will also be offered for free for a year to people who purchase Office 2010 from 19 October.

"Small business customers in applicable markets will also be eligible for a three-month trial of Office 365 Small Business Premium," the blog post added.

End users that only require access to Office on a single device can purchase "traditional Office suites" for at least $139.99.

This package will allow them to save created content to the cloud, but they will not benefit from extra SkyDrive capacity or free Skype calls.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.