Microsoft Office 2013 pricing has been announced, the first to include a monthly subscription option. Microsoft’s licensing and pricing, especially for “Enterprise” software products, can be Byzantine, so it comes as little surprise that the first version of Office to have both boxed and Software-as-a-Service options will be available in no less than nine distinct editions: University, Home Premium, Home & Student, Small Business Premium, Home & Business, Midsize Business, Standard, Enterprise & Government, and Professional Plus.
The Next Web compares Office 365 to Office 2013 in an attempt to unravel the pricing knot. The conclusion is that total cost will end up being much greater for the Office 365 service for everyone but students, assuming a life cycle of 36.5 months, though a reader of the linked article has pointed out that Office 365 includes five licenses compared to Office 2013’s two.
There are alternatives to Microsoft Office altogether. Historically Apache (formerly Oracle, formerly Sun) OpenOffice has been the preferred Office replacement, but recently LibreOffice (actually an OpenOffice fork) has emerged as a strong competitor. Both are free, open source software and are capable of reading and writing Microsoft Office formatted files as well as exporting documents directly to PDF.