July 11, 2017 // 11:51 a.m.
Microsoft has announced the latest instantiation of its vision for Windows as a service rather than a product: Microsoft 365, a bundling of Office 365 and Windows 10 currently targeted at small business and enterprise users.
When Microsoft announced that it was ditching its traditional product launch model with a view to making Windows 10 the last version ever released, Terry Myerson famously described the company's new vision as 'Windows as a Service.' In the years since, the company has begun to deliver on that promise with the launch of a Windows 10 subscription option through its Cloud Service Provider (CSP) partners. Now, it's announcing a simplified subscription model that will allow businesses to pick up both Windows 10 and Office 365 in one subscription, along with the Enterprise Mobility + Security service.
'It represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers’ needs for a modern workplace,' claimed Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer in a blog post following Satya Nadella's unveiling of the service at the company's Inspire conference. 'The workplace is transforming—from changing employee expectations, to more diverse and globally distributed teams, to an increasingly complex threat landscape. From these trends, we are seeing a new culture of work emerging. Our customers are telling us they are looking to empower their people with innovative technology to embrace this modern culture of work. With more than 100 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365, and more than 500 million Windows 10 devices in use, Microsoft is in a unique position to help companies empower their employees, unlocking business growth and innovation.'
Like the separate Windows 10 subscription before it, Microsoft 365 is targeted at business rather than home users. The subscription model is split in two: Microsoft 365 Enterprise, for large corporations, and Microsoft 365 Business, for small to medium enterprises. The company has confirmed that the Business tier will be priced at $20 per user per month (around £15.50 excluding taxes), with pricing yet to be confirmed for the Enterprise tier.
The launch of the all-in-one subscription offering telegraphs Microsoft's desire to turn its users into ongoing revenue streams rather than one-off purchasers, but thus far the company has shied away from licensing Windows 10 to home users in the same way. The new Microsoft 365 subscription plans will be available from August, the company has confirmed.