Yesterday Microsoft unveiled the next version of their flagship office tools suite, Microsoft Office 2013, previously known as codename Office 15. This announcement continues a very busy year for Microsoft as they are in the final stages of bringing the next version of their operating system, Windows 8, to market with RTM expected early next month and general availability in October.

The announcement was made from a press conference in San Francisco that was also webcast across the Internet.  The press conference is available on demand from the Microsoft News Center.

If you are itching to get the download started you can head straight to the Microsoft Office 2013 Preview Page to grab the software.  However, before you head there expecting a packed up installation file you need to read a little further.

With this version of Microsoft Office the plan is to offer this in three different subscription based services depending on the needs of your users.  Just in case you are wondering there has been no discussion about pricing at this point but it is said that users of these subscriptions will always have the latest version of the software and never have to upgrade again.

Here are those options according to Microsoft:

  • Office 365 Home Premium: designed for families and consumers. This service also includes an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium: designed for small businesses. This service also includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD webconferencing.
  • Office 365 ProPlus: designed for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage in the cloud.

Each of these versions above require you to have a Microsoft Account as your installs are tied to that account.  For instance the Home Premium version can be installed on up to five devices per user.  You also have the full version of the program on your computer so offline work is very easy and that means these are not streamed to your PC when you use them. They actually work in a virtual environment and can be used alongside other versions of Office.

As I have written about before I recently shifted all of my house accounts over to Office 365 for Exchange Email and it has been extremely reliable and very flexible.  My wife has never been happier with her email experience across all of her screens – phone, laptop, and computer.

I see these offerings as being just as reliable, updates will be quick and we will never have to buy another version of Office ever again.  This is truly software as a subscription and in this day and age of the cloud makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of the cloud, this upcoming version of Microsoft Office just doesn’t let you save files in the cloud but it is part and parcel of the cloud that helps you access any of your documents you want from any screen you want to.

With Windows 8, and now Office 2013, Microsoft is definitely blurring the lines between all of our devices.