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Microsoft retail stores to offer free Office 365 subscriptions

updated 10:53 pm EDT, Thu March 27, 2014

Celebrates release of Office for iPad while boosting traffic

In a follow-up announcement after it took the wraps off its long-awaited Office for iPad app, Microsoft has announced that it will run a promotion on Friday in its own Microsoft retail stores offering free year-long Office 365 subscriptions to iPad owners. The Office for iPad app requires a Office 365 subscription in order to engage the editing and creation functions in the app -- without one, it will act only as a viewer and file manager for Office documents. The first 50 people to bring an iPad to a Microsoft retail outlet will get the free subscription, a $99 value.

Microsoft's Office 365 is both a suite of web versions of its popular Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other program but also increasingly a means to shift users away from "perpetual licenses" (a one-time price that did not include upgrades, but worked until incompatibility with newer equipment or obsolescence took over) and towards a "subscription model," where users pay continuously for uninterrupted access to the programs, but do get upgrades both minor and major rolled out automatically at no extra charge. Adobe has recently been pushing a similar model, though different in some aspects.

Like Adobe, Microsoft has tried to popularize the polarizing idea of "rental software" by offering frequent sales on the overall price. Users who would like to use Office for iPad and the other benefits of Office 365 but can't get to a Microsoft retail store (there are only 63 such stores in the entire world, with 58 in the US, three in Canada and two more elsewhere) can find discounted annual subscriptions through resellers such as Amazon or eBay, selling for as little as $70.

Critics of Office 365 complain that the subscription model is not price-effective: a user previously would buy a copy of Microsoft Office at the consumer price of $129 for three licenses (the "Home/Student Edition") and most likely hold onto it until new hardware or operating systems forced them to upgrade, usually several years later. Now, consumers are asked to pay $100 a year for a copy that is tied to a specific user (though it can be installed on up to five devices, and includes 21GB of OneDrive cloud storage).

Office 365 does include access to tools not found in the consumer-oriented Home and Student edition, and Microsoft (for now) continues to sell boxed software versions of Office for those who prefer it. Indeed, the company has promised Mac users a new version of the Office suite to be released later this year. In addition to providing an easy way for users to see if they like or can adapt to Office 365, the promotion will also encourage visitors to check out their local Microsoft retail store -- another endeavor of the Redmond giant that has struggled to find an audience.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. Paulrm

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-01-01

    The day I pay $99 a year to use an app on the iPad will never arrive. 100% Microsoft free!

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Agree...this smacks of the continuing sanctimony of the 2000 Microsoft...only it's 2014! Between trying miserably to shove Windows onto a tablet, laughing at iPhones, and turning Office into a web subscription, these Ballmer wolf tactics will be no more successful in Nadella sheep's clothing.

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Oh...and if my math is correct, that means 3400 people WORLDWIDE will get a free Office 365 subscription*. Gee, thanks Microsoft for this unimaginable charity!

    (*first year only is free)

  1. nouser

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-29-12

    $99 a year is not a price I'd be wiling to pay. Apple's own iWorks is more than adequate for my needs and it is, umm, FREE. iWorks is compatible with MS Office and works via iCloud for instant access across all my iPhones, iPads and Macs.

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-15-06

    LOL. Are people going to be that dumb to trade in their iPad for this for only one year? Ballmer is actually done. This new MS CEO (Nadella) is no different.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    Originally Posted by coffeetimeView Post

    LOL. Are people going to be that dumb to trade in their iPad for this for only one year? Ballmer is actually done. This new MS CEO (Nadella) is no different.

    It's not a trade - you just have to show the iPad for the offer.

  1. davisadm

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-25-08

    I went & got one of these deals. But, I was surprised that the Microsoft "store" was a small kiosk in the mall. Obviously I had never been to a Microsoft Store, but I was expecting it to be something representative of Microsoft, not a small stand similar to one that sells skin cream or costume jewelry!

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