Microsoft Launches Office 365 Personal, Issues Office Online Updates

 
 
By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2014-04-15
 
 
 

Microsoft, on April 15, launched its single-user version of the cloud-friendly productivity software package called Office 365 Personal.

First announced last month, the new plan allows users to install Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote) apps on one PC and one tablet. It also includes an extra 20GB of OneDrive cloud storage, 60 minutes worth of Skype calls and access to the Web-delivered versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Office 365 Personal costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. In a statement, the company noted that the offering also "unlocks editing and document creation on iPad." Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home better position Microsoft "to deliver the right Office to a broader range of households—whether it's an individual or a family of five," asserts the software maker.

Despite rocketing to the top of the Apple App Store rankings with its Office for iPad apps, Microsoft faced criticism for its approach to pricing. Although they are free to download, the apps do little more than let users view Office files unless they are subscribed to an Office 365 plan. At the time of the Office for iPad launch, the lowest price option available was Office 365 Home Premium (now called simply Office 365 Home), at a price of $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

Nestled among many glowing reviews are several complaints about Microsoft's pricing policies. Currently, the Office for iPad App ratings hover around 3 to 3.5 stars. For the time being, the company is showing no signs of lifting the subscription requirement. Eric Wilfrid, a director of program management on the Office for iPad engineering team, indicated in a blog post that the apps are "inseparable from the service experience itself."

Wilfrid did leave the door open a crack, though. Suggesting that Microsoft may revisit its pricing strategy, he admitted that his group had "heard lot of feedback in the app store" regarding how Microsoft gated the apps' functionality.

On the Office Online front, the company continues to blur the line between its browser-based and desktop Office apps.

Excel Online, for instance, gains "the ability to insert new comments as well as edit and delete existing comments," informed Office Online Technical Product Manager Kaberi Chowdhury in a blog post. Further, power users "can now open and edit VBA-enabled spreadsheets without removing (or corrupting) the VBA contained in the file."

Word Online has been updated to include commenting in the collaborative editing mode along with an inline method of adding footnotes and endnotes and a more intuitive way of formatting lists. PowerPoint Online gets a new text editor, performance enhancements and the ability to play embedded YouTube videos.

Users of Google's Chrome Web browser now have a more integrated experience. "Office Online works great in all browsers, but for those of you who use Chrome, you can now add Word Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online to your Chrome App launcher to create new Office documents online with a single click from your desktop," stated Chowdhury. Excel Online is in the works and will soon be added to the Chrome Web store.

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