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Microsoft launches Office 2013, Office 365 Home Premium

Microsoft has officially launched Office 2013, the latest version of its popular productivity suite, alongside a new release of its subscription cloud-based service Office 365 dubbed Home Premium.

"Today’s launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft’s transformation to a devices and services business,” Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, said at the launch of the software. "This is so much more than just another release of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits."

It's clear from Ballmer's focus that Microsoft is most interested in pushing its subscription-based Office 365 Home Premium package, a productivity suite that runs in your browser like rival Google Drive, rather than the boxed version of Office 2013 - and that's little surprise: Office 365 provides the company with a recurring and predictable revenue stream, and with Microsoft making a considerable percentage of its revenue from the Office division that's not something to sneeze at.

There are advantages for the buyer, too: users gain access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher and Access - giving word processing, presentation, spreadsheet, communications, collaboration, desktop publishing and database capabilities - with the promise of always receiving the very latest version as and when they are released. Providing, that is, the buyer continues to pay for the subscription - because without the regular monthly payment, the software deactivates itself until the subscription is renewed.

The licence, which costs £7.99 per month or £79.99 per year, can be shared across five different devices and comes with 20GB of cloud storage via SkyDrive and 60 free Skype calling minutes each month.

The traditional desktop release of Office 2013, meanwhile, is priced at £110 for the Home and Student edition, £220 for the Home and Business version - which adds Outlook, missing from the Student release - or £390 for the Professional edition, which is the only boxed version to include Publisher and Access.

Nowhere in Microsoft's presentation was mention of its rumoured iOS and Android versions of Office.

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