Office 2013 is the best Office yet

With Office 365 Home Premium, Microsoft brings excellent cloud features and pay-as-you-go pricing to the world's best office suite

With Office 365 Home Premium, available today, Microsoft's office productivity suite inches as close to the cloud as possible without actually running in the cloud. The cloud orientation is reflected in the new Office 365 branding (borrowed from Microsoft's online services for business), the new application streaming delivery model (no installation discs), and new subscription-based pricing (whereby you can pay per month or year). For those who like having installation discs or who prefer to buy rather than rent, more traditional SKUs of Office 2013 are also available.

Office 365 Home Premium has been crafted to make the rent-as-you-go plan as appealing as possible to the masses who haven't yet abandoned Microsoft Office for OpenOffice, LibreOffice, or Google Docs. For $100 a year, you get five installations of Office 2013 Home Premium (traditional SKUs limit you to one installation) and access to Office resources in the cloud. These cloud resources include not only SkyDrive and the browser-based Office apps, but also personalized settings that follow you wherever you happen to be working and the ability to install temporary copies of the Office 2013 programs on demand on a PC that doesn't have it.

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Every Office 365 Home Premium subscription also includes 60 monthly minutes of international calls via Skype and 20GB of SkyDrive storage. At the end of the licensing period, all programs revert to read-only status unless you renew. The biggest drawback to Office 365 Home Premium is that it's licensed for noncommercial use only; if you use Office 365 for "revenue-generating activity," you must use the Office 365 Small Business Premium SKU or higher. According to Microsoft, you're likewise covered if your Office license at work includes home use.

Cloud connections
Microsoft prides itself on the way Office 365 is delivered to PCs. Instead of running the traditional .MSI installer from media, you download a 500K installation stub from the Web. The stub triggers a "streamed" download that fetches components of Office on-demand and installs them in a virtual file system using Microsoft's application virtualization technology (App-V). One benefit is that Home Premium can be installed side by side with previous versions of Office.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Presentations (20.0%)
Value (9.0%)
Word processing (20.0%)
Interoperability (15.0%)
Usability (15.0%)
Spreadsheets (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Office 365 Home Premium 8.0 10.0 10.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0
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