On Wednesday, Microsoft launched a number of upgrades for its Office 365 suite. Those upgrades include both new features and new pricing options for small and medium sized businesses. However, some experts say that the various options are very confusing.
The Wall Street Journal's Steven D. Jones reported, "Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced a broad upgrade to the online version of its Office suite of business software–including separate packages and pricing for small and mid-sized businesses–as the software company seeks to fend off growing pressure from Google Inc. Microsoft has improved the suite, known as Office 365, quarterly since it appeared in 2011. This time, in addition to the pricing changes, the June release will incorporate features of its recently acquired Yammer social networking utility, Skype connections for messaging and voice, and roll out in 16 languages in 87 markets world-wide, 20 more than now."
TechCrunch's Frederic Lardinois added, "Starting with today’s update, Microsoft will also offer a set of new versions of Office for small and midsize businesses. In addition, Microsoft now offers the Office 365 ProPlus package, which offers business users the full versions of the standard Office apps as a service for up to five devices at $144 per user per year (including a set of management tools for IT departments)."
Ars Technica's Sean Gallagher explained, "Office 2013 Professional Plus includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, the Lync chat and conferencing client, OneNote, the Access desktop database, Publisher, and InfoPath designer and Filler for creating SharePoint workflows. It also includes SkyDrive Pro, which can connect to SharePoint libraries and personal storage space, synchronizing files between the cloud and the user's PC."
But ReadWrite's Brian Profitt warned, "you'll need a spreadsheet to figure out which of six different options you'll need – not to mention what it'll cost."
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