I just came across a small announcement from MIcrosoft last week that's actually huge news. Mainly huge news for business, though even for consumers. Game-changer news in some ways.
First, a bit of background. I'm try to make it simple. There are a lot of numbers, but they're mostly dollar numbers, not techie ones. And though this is about technology, it ultimately relates to something really basic for most people -- and something that has the potential to save some people a lot of money.
Okay, to dive in...
Cloud-based storage is a big deal these days, with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and Microsoft's OneDrive, and more.
Dropbox give 2 GB of storage for free. iCloud is 5 GB for free. Google Drive and OneDrive give 15 GB for free.
When you're getting up to the 15 GB range, that's plenty of storage for most people. But as people get used to using the cloud, they tend to want to store more there, like their songs and pictures, and then their videos, and that eats up tons of space. So, there are options to pay for more space.
Dropbox gives you a massive 1 terabyte for $10 a month. (Or $120 a year.) Or for businesses with huge needs, you can get a 5-user account of 1 terabyte for each (that's 5 terabytes total) for $800.
Google Drive give you 1 terabyte for the same $120 a year. Or 10 terabytes for $1,200 a year.
iCloud gives a range of prices up to 1 terabyte for $240 a year.
(Another service, SugarSync, used to have free cloud space, but stopped a year ago. It now sells 1 terabyte for $550 a year.)
Okay, a slight digression. But with a point. We're going to talk about Microsoft Office for a moment. Don't worry, this will become all clear.
Microsoft sells Office two ways. A standalone product or by subscription. (Short version: I have a LONG column coming out next month on Windows 8 and Office, and after studying the two, the subscription service, known as Office 365, is the best deal, I think, for many reasons, only one of which I'll explain here. And that one reason is the company's One Drive cloud service. See, I told you we'd get back to the cloud...)
Up until last week, Microsoft had a great deal for people who subscribed to Office 365. A one-year personal subscription to Office 365 (which gives you the full Office suite) costs $7 a month -- but you can get it discounted for $70 a year. AND it included a free 1 terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage. For a family or business, you could get five licenses of Office for only $100 a year and each would get free 1 terabyte of OneDrive storage. That is a terrific deal.
But last week, Microsoft blew that terrific deal out of the water and upped the ante. Way up.
Starting now, subscribers to Office 365 get unlimited OneDrive cloud storage. As in...unlimited.
But the way to look at it isn't for the cost of Office with cloud storage added. Given all the competition for cloud storage today, the way to look at it is like this: for only $70 a year, a Personal Office 365 account gives you unlimited OneDrive storage -- and you get the full Office suite thrown in for free! Or for just $100 a year, you can get a Home/Business account and five licenses each for unlimited OneDrive cloud storage -- and five licenses for Office will be thrown in, for free.
(A normal full suite of Office, if you buy it standalone, costs $400. Five licenses would be $2,000. You can get five licenses of Office 365 plus unlimited cloud storage for each, for just $100. See why I said it's a better deal? And I didn't even give the other reasons...)
Keep in mind that Dropbox sells 5 terabyte of of cloud storage for $800. And no Office.
Google Drive sells 1 terabyte of storage for $120 a year, and no Office. And if you're a business with huge storage needs, 10 terabyte will cost you $1,200 with no Office.
iCloud is $240 a year for 1 terabyte of storage. No Office included.
And to repeat: Office 365 can get you up to five licenses of Office and unlimited cloud storage for each...for just $100 total. If you were a business, what would you choose?
Even for an individual, it's a remarkable deal. Most people will never likely come close to needing 1 terabyte of storage. But for just $70 a year, you get the full Office suite, period. AND unlimited OneDrive cloud storage, for however much of it you may ever want to use. And as more people are storing everything in the cloud, including videos, that will eat up huge amounts space.
People talk about Windows 8 (and the upcoming Windows 10) and wonder will people like the operating systems or what. The reality is, though, that not only is version 8.1 really good -- and all reports of Windows 10 are that it looks terrific, and Surface tablets just sold a billion dollars worth of product in the past quarter-- it may be something as simple as unlimited cloud storage for $70-100, with Office thrown in for free that might help change the landscape, as more and more people move to the cloud.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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