Microsoft updates Office with more business tools
The new tier added to Office 365 is intended to extend the suite’s functionality in large businesses.
Seattle Times technology reporter
Microsoft is trying to convince businesses that Office is more than just Word and PowerPoint.
The Redmond company is introducing a new, gold-plated offering toits Web-based Office 365 suite. The new package, set for release Tuesday, will incorporate new conferencing, calling and management tools to the Skype talk and chat service, along with new security and data-crunching tools.
It’s Microsoft’s latest effort to expand its already large role in the workplace.
Office was Microsoft’s toehold in big business, and was followed in the 1990s and 2000s by moves into software to power personal computers, workplace servers and databases.
Now, Microsoft is betting businesses will pay a high price for a more robust Office tool kit that includes advanced collaboration and analytics software.
“You look at the way millennials work, you look at the way students work, and I think collaboration is table stakes in many ways for that generation coming into the workforce,” said John Case, a corporate vice president overseeing marketing for Microsoft’s Office team.
Microsoft’s Office 365 is sold to personal users at $7 to $10 a month.
Versions for large businesses, which come with enhanced security, user account management and other tools for information-technology workers, cost about $8 to $22 a month.
If customers include Microsoft’s new tier coming Tuesday, dubbed E5, the total price will be about $35 a month.
That price pays for Skype Web-based call and conferencing service, a Web-based telephone-network manager. Also included are tools for legal departments to track and find sensitive information in a mass of documents and emails, the Power BI and Delve analytics tools, and other business-focused bells and whistles.
Case says that compared to the cost of existing communications tools, the E5 tier can save large businesses on IT bills by using Skype and Microsoft’s new conferencing services.
“This is an opportunity to set a new benchmark for integration and services,” Case said.