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Office 2013 now on sale for business customers

Non-subscription version available through volume licensing

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Office 2013, the latest version of Microsoft's desktop productivity suite, is now available for purchase by business customers, even though individual users won't be able to order it until next year.

The final versions of the Office application suite have been available to members of Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet subscription programs since October 24, and Microsoft began offering 60-day evaluations of the suite in November, but so far customers have not been able to actually buy it.

On Monday, Redmond announced that the on-premises, perpetual-license version of the suite is now available through the Microsoft Volume Licensing program.

In addition to the core Office applications, Volume Licensing customers can also order the 2013 versions of the Exchange, Lync, and SharePoint server products, plus Project 2013 and Visio 2013.

Microsoft gave no new word on when individual customers would be able to purchase the new Office products, however. So far, all it has said is that the new suite will go on sale during the first quarter of 2013.

Simultaneous with the Office 2013 release, Microsoft is expected to launch the latest version of its Office 365 subscription service, which will bundle the Office 2013 applications along with a variety of online services, such as expanded SkyDrive cloud storage and hosted Exchange, Lync, and SharePoint servers for businesses.

Microsoft has made it no secret that it would like to shift customers to the subscription model, and to that end it has priced Office 365 aggressively. A one-year subscription for small businesses will go for $149.99, less than half the price of a perpetual-license copy of Office 2013 Professional.

In addition, each Office 365 license entitles the subscriber to install the Office applications on up to five computers. A perpetual-license copy of the suite, on the other hand, can only be installed on one PC.

Redmond has also said that it plans to roll out new features to Office 365 subscribers on a regular basis following the Office 2013 launch, and that these additions will not be available to customers who purchased a perpetual-license version of the suite.

As much as Microsoft would like to steer its Office business toward subscriptions, however, good old-fashioned software sales remain its bread and butter for the time being, and with Monday's announcement, the cash register is open for Office 2013.

To purchase the suite, Microsoft says customers should contact their Microsoft Account Teams or their Microsoft Partners. ®

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