Microsoft releases Bing-powered apps for Office 365 Home Premium

Microsoft releases Bingpowered apps for Office 365 Home Premium

Because no corporate monolith can resist a good play at synergy, Microsoft's leveraging its properties to intro a suite of free Bing-powered apps for Office. If you've signed up for the company's recently released, cloud-based Office 365 Home Premium, you'll now be privy to five distinct Excel and Word applications that rely on the search engine for the insertion of dynamic data. For Excel, users can choose amongst Bing Maps, used to embed location data, and Bing Finance, which allows for the creation of a portfolio table. While Word-oriented Office 365 users will now have the added benefit of dedicated Image and News Search apps, letting them trawl the web and insert relevant info from within a document. There's also a Dictionary app that'll monitor your typing and make suggestion from within a right rail. It's all live in the Office Store now, so head on to the source to start your installs.

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Source: Bing

Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium review

Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium review

It feels like we've been talking about Office 2013 for a while now -- we first previewed the software back in July, and it's been available as a free beta download ever since. Today, though, it's launching in a more formal way: the final version of Office 2013 is now on sale, as is Office 365 Home Premium, which lets you purchase a subscription to Office 2013 and then install it on up to five computers.

Though you can still buy the software outright, Microsoft has gone out of its way to make subscribing seem like the more attractive option: buying a one-year subscription costs $100 a year and nets you five installs, while the purchase cost is $139 for a single user. To sweeten the deal, Microsoft is giving Office 365 subscribers 60 Skype minutes per month and 20GB of extra SkyDrive storage. Naturally, too, subscribing to the service means you always get the latest software -- a particularly important point for Apple fans still waiting on a new version of Office for Mac. Either way, though, Office 2013 now has an app store, and you can poke around even if you're not a subscriber.

As it is, we've already given you an in-depth walk-through of all the major new features in Office, but we haven't yet gotten to experience it as a subscription, with all our settings following us from one PC to another. But we're still wondering: is it worth shelling out a hundred bones a year for a subscription?

Getting started

Though Office 2013 and Office 365 will both be available to purchase in stores, you won't actually find an installation CD in the box. Even if you buy it from a brick-and-mortar kind of place, you'll only really see a written product key when you tear open the packaging. So, regardless of whether you purchase in stores or online, you'll eventually need to head over to, enter your license number and then proceed to download the software.

As ever, the system requirements are fairly modest: so long as you have 3.5GB of free disk space and an x86 or x64 system clocked at 1GHz or higher, you'll be good to go. DirectX10 graphics are required, along with a minimum resolution of 1,024 x 576. Microsoft also recommends 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems and 2GB for 64-bit machines.

In any case, once you enter your product key it's smooth sailing. Just sign in with your Microsoft account (you'll have a chance to create one if you're a new user) and verify your country and language. So far so good, right? From that home screen on, you can see how many of your five installations you've used. You can view your payment method, expiration date, billing history and automatic renewal information, if applicable. And, of course, there's a big "install" button, which you'll need to click since you haven't actually downloaded the software yet.

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While Office sets itself up for the first time, you can choose to page through a few introductory slides. All told, it's not unlike how Windows 8 loads a primer on new gestures while the OS readies itself for the first time. Naturally, once they're fully installed the various Office apps appear as Live Tiles on the Start Screen, not as desktop shortcuts.

Once you've installed Office, you can sign in to your Microsoft account (or not -- in which case it's just a local copy). You can also choose the border that will appear on new Word documents and other files. In all, there are 14 of these themes, though there's also a "no background option" for people who find doodles of circles and circuits offensive. Not that we're pressuring you or anything, but they're really very subtle: they only take up a small patch of space on the fringe of the screen, and don't actually call much attention to themselves.

Office 2013

DNP Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium review

As crazy as this might sound, we don't plan on dwelling too much on the actual Office suite, just because we already wrote thousands of words on the subject back when it was first released. For a full run-down of the new features (plus dozens of screenshots), we'll direct you back to our preview, first published six months ago. For those of you who lack the attention span, though, we'll humor you with a quick recap. Notable new features in the suite include PDF editing in Word, a full-screen Reading Mode (great for tablets) and a behind-the-scenes Presenter View in PowerPoint. Touch Mode is exactly what it sounds like, which is to say it makes all the UI elements a little bigger and more touch-friendly -- not that it magically makes Excel convenient to use without a keyboard, per se. Resume Reading remembers exactly where you were in a document the last time you opened it, which is useful if you've been charged with editing a 40-page patent infringement brief or something equally tedious.

Even when the software was still in development we found it to be fast and stable, while the features themselves were intuitive to use.

By default, the various Office apps now save to SkyDrive, and you can always send someone a link to your work so they can read it in a browser. Adding online video to Word and PowerPoint files is much easier than it had been, and it's now possible to reply to comments in Track Changes. Flash Fill in Excel can predict what information should go in blank cells if the data is repetitive and follows a pattern. Finally, Outlook gets a feature called Peeks, which lets you hover to view your calendar and such without leaving the inbox. Meanwhile, so-called Social Connectors are plug-ins from services like LinkedIn.

For the most part, the software is the same as when we last tested it. And that's a good thing: even when the software was still in development we found it to be fast and stable, while the features themselves were intuitive to use. The only point of controversy might be the carryover of the Ribbon UI, which debuted all the way back in Office 2007, and which some people still haven't warmed up to.

There are a few new features, however, many of them subtle fit-and-finish sort of things. The icon for switching to Touch Mode has changed, and when you tap it you now get a pop-up menu that briefly explains the difference between that and mouse mode (the gist being that in Touch Mode there's no Ribbon menu, and the various UI elements are spaced farther apart). There's also a rotating group of templates, which vary depending on region and also the time of year. For instance, you won't see any Valentine's Day-related options in August, and you also won't see any sample Fourth of July party invites if you live outside the US. It's a smart idea, making these things timely and region-specific. We're not sure how many people actually use templates to begin with, but if you do, knock yourself out.

PowerPoint, meanwhile, has gotten a new transitions category called "Exciting," which includes some new animations. As you might have guessed, they're flashy transitions, sequences with names like "Curtains," "Origami" and "Paper Airplane" (they all are exactly what they sound like). What can we say? They're playful and call lots of attention to themselves, which is to say they probably won't be especially welcome at a board meeting. But just like with the templates, we're glad they're there for people who require a few more resources to truly express themselves.

Office Store

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Now that Microsoft has dragged Office kicking and screaming into the cloud-computing era, it's doing something else to bring the software up to date: it's giving the suite its very own app store. The Office Store lives on, and is accessible even to folks who don't have a subscription to Office 365 (meaning, it's fine if you just own Office 2013). So far, the store includes apps for Word, Excel, Outlook, Project and SharePoint (but not PowerPoint, strangely). If you like, you can sort apps by any of the above programs, which is how we prefer to go about it. Alternatively, though, you can browse through a page of features apps, too. Similar to the Windows Store, you can read user reviews and click through to see detailed system requirements. Installing an app is as easy as hitting an "Add" button, though you'll need to go through an extra step to make sure it appears in the Ribbon of whatever Office application uses the add-on.

What's interesting about browsing the store is that because no one really expected or asked for Office applications, it doesn't matter so much how many there are, or whether you've heard of any of them. (In other words, this isn't like demanding Instagram on Windows Phone 8 and accepting no substitutes.) In fact, there are some big names represented, including LinkedIn, which has a plug-in for Outlook, and Merriam-Webster, whose dictionary works across Word and Excel. We also found some other apps we could see ourselves using, like Bing News for Word and "Random Generator" for Excel.

Most of these are free, which creates a nice incentive for downloading a bunch and seeing what sticks. (As you can see, "nice and inoffensive" seems to be a running theme here, at least as far as the new features go.) A few of the apps do cost money, however, particularly some of the more sophisticated programs designed for enterprise users. If you're a developer reading this, Microsoft takes a 20 percent cut from application purchases, which matches the revenue split already in place for Windows applications.

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To use the apps, just click the Insert in the Ribbon, followed by "Office Apps." Each one shows up as a pane along the right-hand side, which you can easily close by tapping an "X" button. You can open more than one app at once (as evidenced in the screenshot above) but be warned: for every app you open, you'll have less space to actually do your work. The apps in Word, for instance, line up side by side, causing the actual document to narrow. If you only open up one application, you'll still be able to type in Word without having to do any extra scrolling from side to side; that changes once you open a second app, though. All told, it's a minor inconvenience: just decide whether you need to be using Bing News at the moment, or if Merriam-Webster is more vital.

As for the apps themselves, they're exactly what they sound like, and that's a good thing. Bing News has a search bar into which you can type queries. Ditto for the dictionary app we tried, and LinguLab WordCloud. Web searches, definitions and everything else shows up in the same box where you performed the search so that you don't have to toggle over to IE 10 -- or any other program, for that matter. That alone makes these apps useful, though it helps that the information itself is clearly presented and comes from reliable sources.


DNP Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium review

What can we say? Office 2013 is a top-notch product: fast, intuitive and feature-rich. All of the new features work as promised, and are easy to get the hang of. At the same time, since the UI is similar to the previous version, it should be easy to master if you're upgrading from Office 2010. Now it's true, there are various free alternatives out there, including cloud-based ones like Google Docs. Still, we're wary of steering all our readers there, because we know lots of folks are already comfortable using Office, or have come to rely on some of the more advanced features you can't get elsewhere. Assuming you don't have any interest in switching to a more basic suite, then, the real question is: does it make more sense to buy Office once for $139 and make do with one license? Or is it wiser in the long run to pay $100 every year for a subscription in exchange for five installations and ongoing software updates?

Obviously, the more computers you own, the more it makes sense to pay $100 a year for five activations. For example, buying five individual copies would cost $695 up front, as opposed to $600 for six years of service. Basically, you'd be saving money until that seventh year rolls around, and that's a long enough stretch that you'd get upgraded to Office 2017 in the interim. That said, the subscription model isn't for everyone. Many of the perks -- Skype minutes, extra SkyDrive storage -- seem like weak reasons to go with Office 365 if you're on the fence. Meanwhile, the Office Store is useful but it's not like you need a subscription to enjoy it. With all that in mind, if you own just one machine it might make sense to shell out $139 for a single license and not have to pay $100 on an annual basis. In short, then, Office itself is a polished product, but your decision on whether to get 2013 or 365 should mainly come down to how many computers you own. Almost everything else is beside the point.

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Microsoft Office 2013, Office 365 Home Premium available now; 365 for business coming later (updated)

Microsoft Office 2013, Office 365 Home Premium available now; 365 for business coming later

Until now, we've known almost all there is to know about Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365: we got hands-on with the new features last summer, and the company has even confirmed pricing. The only thing we weren't sure of was the exact on-sale date, but even that got leaked when a Canadian retailer put up a pre-order page indicating the two products would ship January 29th. Well, what do you know? Today is January 29th and sure enough, Office 2013 is on sale, along with the subscription service Office 365. To be clear, while every version of the boxed software is now out, 365 is only being offered to consumers; the business version will arrive later, on February 27th.

For now, Office 365 Home Premium is priced at $99.99 for an annual subscription, with permission to install the suite on up to five PCs and Macs. There's also a "University" version for college students and faculty, which costs $79.99 for a four-year plan. Either way, the sub includes 20GB of SkyDrive storage on top of whatever plan you already have which is to say if you previously only had 7GB of space, your limit will now get bumped to 20 gigs. (In other words, people grandfathered into 25GB don't get an additional 20 gigabytes.). Of course, you can always deactivate a particular machine through if you need to free up a license. Naturally, too, as a part of the subscription you'll always have the most recent version. That means Office 2013 for Windows users; Office for Mac 2011 if you're on OS X. That last piece is a bit of a bummer, for sure, but for what it's worth Microsoft has said a new Mac product is in the works, and that subscribers will get it as part of a future software update.

If you'd rather buy the software outright, you can do that today too. At the low end, there's Office 2013 Home and Student 2013 ($139), which comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Home and Business adds Outlook for $219, while the top-of-the-line Professional package includes all of the above along with Access and Publisher for $399. Remember, though: these come with only one user license, and you don't get any complimentary cloud storage or upgrades to future versions. It's your money, obviously, but it seems clear to us that Microsoft has gone out of its way to make its Office 365 service the more attractive option. So, you might want to think long and hard about how much owning your software really means to you before going the old-fashioned route.

Update: An Office 365 subscription includes 20GB of SkyDrive storage in addition to whatever plan you already have. So, if you were grandfathered into 25 gigs of storage, you'll end up with 45GB in total.

Show full PR text

Microsoft Releases Office 365 Home Premium
Jan. 29, 2013
New consumer cloud service works across devices to help busy people simplify their lives and get more done.

NEW YORK - Jan. 29, 2013 - Microsoft Corp. today announced worldwide availability of Office 365 Home Premium, a reinvention of the company's flagship Office product line for consumers. Office 365 Home Premium is a cloud service designed for busy households and people juggling ever-increasing work and family responsibilities. The new offering includes the latest and most complete set of Office applications; works across up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs and Macs; and comes with extra SkyDrive storage and Skype calling - all for US$99.99 for an annual subscription, the equivalent of US$8.34 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."

Microsoft also announced it will now deliver many new features and services to the cloud first, transforming the company's traditional three-year release cycle. Now, new features and services stream to subscribers as soon as they are ready, keeping subscribers always up to date while eliminating the hassles of upgrading.

"This is a major leap forward," said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division. "People's needs change rapidly, and Office 365 Home Premium will change with them."

Simultaneously, Microsoft today released Office 365 University for college or university students, faculty and staff at a price of just US$79.99 for a four-year subscription - the equivalent of US$1.67 per month. Globally, the company also released updated versions of the traditional Office suite: Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013. Office 365 for businesses will be released globally with new capabilities on Feb. 27.

Time to Do the Things You Want

In a recent global survey,* nearly 60 percent of people said they don't have the time to do the things they want to do, and more than 80 percent said they could save one or more hours a day if they were better organized. Office 365 Home Premium is designed to help people be more productive from virtually anywhere and find the flexibility to do the things they want.

"Between kids and career, I'm never completely at home or completely at work - and thanks to technology, that suits me just fine," said Jen Singer, an author, blogger and mom of two teen boys. "With Office 365 Home Premium, I can work around my kids' schedules, so I can drive the soccer carpool, coordinate errands while at a doctor's office and still hit my deadlines at work. And, with one subscription for everyone in my family, it's an absolute steal."

To help people find more time to do the things they want, Microsoft is introducing Time to 365 (, a new crowd-sourced website where people can find and share tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration from around the world. Contributors include experts such as "techorating" pro Janna Robinson ( and everyday working parents who have found ways to simplify their lives. Tips on the site include, for example, an idea for organizing your grocery list with OneNote on your phone, a pointer on how to pick the right-sized TV for your living room, and ways to use Office applications to help plan a child's birthday party.

About Office 365 Home Premium

Office 365 Home Premium is available in 162 markets in 21 languages and includes the following:

o. The latest and most complete set of Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access

o. One license for the entire household to use Office on up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs or Macs, and Office on Demand available from any Internet-connected PC**

o. An additional 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage, nearly three times the amount available with a free SkyDrive account

o. 60 free Skype world calling minutes per month to call mobile phones, landlines or PCs around the world***

o. Future upgrades, so you always use the latest time-saving technology

People can learn more about Office 365 Home Premium or try it free for 30 days at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

* Microsoft surveyed more than 10,000 people in over 20 countries.

** App availability varies by operating system, device and language.

*** Skype world minutes not available in all countries. Calls to select countries.

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Source: Microsoft

Microsoft announces Office 2013 and 365 pricing, nudges users towards annual subscriptions

Microsoft nudges households and small businesses towards subscriptions with Office 2013, 365 pricing

While we still don't know exactly when Microsoft will unleash Office 2013 and Office 365 upon the world, we do know how much they'll cost. While standalone versions, licensed for use on a single computer, will still be available, the new strategy makes it more affordable for many homes and business to opt for a subscription package instead. Office Home and Student 2013 (with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) will cost $139, while Home and Business adds Outlook for $219, and the top of the line Professional package includes all of those along with Access and Publisher for $399. Compare those to the two Office 365 packages, which promise customizations that follow their users around, expanded cloud storage, access to all of the apps and automatically receive any future updates that come out for them.

Office 365 Home Premium will cost $99 per year, with 20GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype calling per month and access on five computers, along with the ability to change out the devices at any time, and use "full featured apps" temporarily on any PC. It's a single subscription for up to 5 users, and will have a 30 day free trial available. Alternatively, small businesses with 1-10 employees could opt for Office 365 Small Business Premium that also comes with all the apps, but lets each user install it on up to 5 different PCs or Macs, along with 25GB Outlook storage, an organization-wide 10GB cloud drive plus 500MB for each user, online meetings and even website hosting. That also has a free trial, but costs $149 per user, per year. If you can't wait, buying Office 2010 or Office 2011 for Mac as of October 19th entitles users to a free upgrade to Office 2013 or one year of Office 365 free.

Clearly, Microsoft would prefer it if users took advantage of the new pay-per-year offerings, but what do you think? Check out all the details from Microsoft's blog and check list linked below (or our preview) as well as a few of their examples after the break, and let us know if you'll be upgrading or switching over to an alternative like Open Office.

Continue reading Microsoft announces Office 2013 and 365 pricing, nudges users towards annual subscriptions

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Microsoft announces Office 2013 and 365 pricing, nudges users towards annual subscriptions originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 17 Sep 2012 22:47:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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