Microsoft Office 365 launched in India, starts at Rs 420 per month for a year for Home Premium

Yesterday we reported Microsoft’s India pricing for Office 365, and now it has officially launched the productivity suite in India. With Office 365, Microsoft takes a completely new approach as for the first time it pitches its marquee product as a service to the consumer. Previously, Office 365 was only available to the enterprise as a service. The Home Premium SKU of Office 365 aimed at consumers costs Rs 4,199 per year or Rs 420 per month. Users should be mindful, that even the Rs 420 per month scheme is basically a lock-in for a year, and it’s just the case of the amount being debited on a monthly basis rather than on a yearly basis.

The Home Premium version of the Office 365 subscription allows users to subscribe to Office apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook Publisher and Access across 5 PCs/Mac and additional 5 mobile devices (Currently only Windows Phones and Windows RT tablets are supported). Mac users will continue to use Office 2011, but the representatives from Microsoft India indicated that there could be an update in the works that would arrive in the next 6-10 months based on previous trends.

Users will also get an additional 20GB of SkyDrive storage, in addition to five free new SkyDrive accounts. That accounts to a total of 27GB of storage.

The idea behind Office 365 Home Premium is a singular productivity suite for the entire household. Users will be able to use native Office apps or their web-based variants. In a situation where one does not have access to one’s PC, then one can login to their Office 365 account using any PC and either a copy of Office can be streamed to provide a native app experience or one can use a web client.

Microsoft’s approach to Office is wildly different from Google’s vision of Drive and Docs. Microsoft views its web-based Office clients as a means for light editing and reading and it allows the user to stream the real deal for content creation. So for instance if one has a ‘Word’ document then one can stream Word on any computer by logging into Office 365. However, Microsoft is actually streaming the entire Office suite, but the demanded app in question gets streamed first.

Google, in contrast, believes that its web applications can duplicate most of the functionality of Office, all in the web client, including offline interactions. Microsoft on its part creates a cache of the content, so that work can be done offline and as it is streaming the apps in its entirety, the offline experience is frictionless. Additionally, documents are saved to SkyDrive by default and users can seamlessly share data using the service in the form of web-links. Google also achieves the same with its Drive service.

Microsoft specified that users who do not renew the service will start getting warnings 90 days before hand and Microsoft will allow users to export their data and will have a read-only mode so that the data is not lost. However, the company was unclear whether data retrieval was possible once the subscription had expired.

Other major features of Office 2013 include, its touch-friendly interface, which is tailored for a new generation of Windows 8 PCs. There are numerous under the hood updates to Office and users will find a number of new features to all the apps that make it simpler and faster to use.

Microsoft did not announce the pricing of the Home and Student SKU, but as we reported earlier, Microsoft’s website indicates the price will be Rs 5,499. Mind you this only meant for a single PC and is not a subscription like Office 365 but is available as box set. The box set of Office Home and Business 2013 costs Rs 13,499 and the Office Professional version costs Rs 24,999.