If you don't need the family plan offered by Microsoft's Office 365 Home Premium, relax--Microsoft announced an individual subscription on Thursday.
Dubbed Office 365 Personal, the new Office subscription works with just a single computer (either a Mac or a PC) and a tablet. Instead of paying $9.99 per month ($99 per year) for Office 365 Home Premium, Microsoft is charging $6.99 per month, or $69.99 annually, for the Personal version. The new subscription option will arrive later this spring, Microsoft said.
Microsoft will continue to offer Office 365 Home Premium, but will tighten the name to just Office 365 Home when the Personal Edition becomes available, the company said. The name change also reflects the fact that Office Home is, in fact, designed for a home, with licenses for up to 5 PCs or Macs, plus an additional 5 mobile devices such as phones or tablets. Office Personal, naturally, is for those without additional family members. Whether one chooses Office Personal or Office Home Premium, however, Microsoft will still offer them 60 minutes of free international Skype calls per month and 20 GB of OneDrive storage.
"We're committed to delivering a great Office experience to all of our customers and believe that giving you a choice about the Office 365 subscription that fits your unique needs is one way we can do that," Chris Schneider, a senior marketing manager at Microsoft, said in a blog post. "We'll have more details to share closer to availability."
Microsoft has been busy migrating users off of its software suites, such as Office 2013, on to the Office 365 subscription model. However, online collaboration still has its quirks, as our recent Microsoft collaboration test proved.
A Microsoft representative said that Office Home subscribers with more than one tablet or mobile device will be able to use an Office Mobile app on one, and the Office Online Web app on the other. It's not exactly clear, however, if Microsoft is considering a "tablet" to be just that-- a tablet--or a stand-in for a mobile device, like a phone.
However, a Microsoft representative said that the company is defining a tablet for Windows as a device with either touch or a detachable keyboard. Since Surface tablets have a detachable keyboard, both a Windows PC and a Surface Pro or Pro 2 would qualify for a Personal SKU, she said via email. (The Surface 2 ships with Office 2013 RT, which offers Office functionality, but not the latest updates and additions offered by an Office 365 subscription.) Microsoft representatives promised to look into the matter and report back.
Still, if you're one of the Millennial generation who prefers a native Office suite but lives separately from their parents, Office Personal may be for you.
Updated at 11:33 AM with more information from Microsoft.