Microsoft likely to leash iOS Office apps to Office 365, say analysts

Key goal, say experts, will be to offer mobile apps without reducing revenue

By , Computerworld |  Software, Microsoft Office, mobile apps

Miller continues to believe that an Office 365 tie-in is but one option Microsoft has available to offer iOS and Android apps without hurting its Office cash cow. "[There will be] some form of compensation, whether it requires in-app purchase, as OneNote currently does for higher-use customers; subscription to a service, and some strange unlocking in the product as a result; or an outright purchase of the apps in the store," Miller said.

For consumers, Office 365 will be the only way to obtain working apps for their iOS or Android devices, said Ullman. "It will drive consumer usage of Office 365," he said. "Microsoft's logic behind that is it will be a strong way to move people to the subscription model."

Microsoft is betting big on Office 365, which for the first time will feature plans aimed at consumers and small businesses that let them install copies of the suite on their computers and other devices, not simply run scaled-down Web-based apps. Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 Small Business Premium are, experts have argued, key to Microsoft's goal of motivating customers to ditch perpetually-licensed software for a pay-forever model that will both boost and stabilize the company's Office revenue by untethering it from the every-few-years upgrade cadence.

Office 365 Home Premium will let a household run Office on up to five devices, which Microsoft has defined as traditional desktops and notebooks -- Windows or OS X systems -- as well as tablets and smartphones. Office 365 Small Business Premium, meanwhile, will work like the current enterprise plans, allowing each worker to run Office on up to five of his or her devices.

The price: $100 annually per household for Home Premium, $150 annually per user for Small Business Premium.

By tying Office Mobile for iOS and Android to Office 365, Microsoft both makes the subscription plans more economical and creates a carrot to convince consumers and small businesses to follow in the footsteps of enterprises, which typically pay for software through annuity-style licensing deals like Software Assurance.

Sans Office on iOS and Android, Office 365 may not make financial sense for most households or small businesses: Computerworld's calculations show that a household or business worker must use four or five of the allowed copies to bring the per-year, per-license cost of Office 365 below that of the same number of perpetual licenses.

Last month, one analyst called that "iffy, very iffy," even in a technology-oriented household or business.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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