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Microsoft 365

Mobile versus professional—thoughts on the Office business

Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office 365 Client Apps and Services team.

Since the Office for iPad announcement last March, we’ve worked hard to bring the power of Office to every person, across every platform and device, so people can get things done on their terms.

This substantial increase in distribution has naturally brought some changes in the way people use Office, including how and when they need a subscription to Office 365.

In the same way we’ve tuned Office software to be great on different devices, we’ve also carefully thought through the use cases and business implications involved. We’ve analyzed how our products are used in the real world, researched device trends that are shaping new experiences, and worked to understand what our customers want and need. All of this background work is used to inform how we categorize users, scenarios and devices into our licensing models.

The flexibility consumers want

The world of consumer mobile devices offers new opportunities to bring the power of Office to more customers. People all around the globe are on the go, and they want to access documents and content in Office formats, which makes our freemium experience important.

Offering a free, basic mobile app exposes more people to the innovations we’re bringing to mobile. Our goal is to make Office and other Microsoft services available on small screens to the broadest population of mobile users—and in less than a year, we’ve already seen more than 80 million downloads of Office for iOS.

But there are also many scenarios where consumers want to do things that go beyond the basic freemium experience. This is where the value of an Office 365 subscription comes in. With Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal, families and individuals can extend the Office experience across all of their devices and take advantage of premium, subscription-only benefits like more robust editing and authoring features in the Office apps, 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype unlimited worldwide calling per month.

That’s why we’ve seen demand for these premium consumer subscription services grow—Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal grew to more than 9.2 million subscribers in the last quarter, up 30 percent.

A full-featured subscription for business users

In the professional world, we’ve approached things differently. These users require more than simple apps: Organizations need an integrated product suite. They need security and reliability. And most of all, they need to be able to get things done, wherever they are.

Serving professional users on a subscription-only basis makes sense, because of those extended needs, and the resulting product categories and licensing models for business customers are a key element to Office 365 experiencing phenomenal growth. As more companies take Office to the cloud, commercial seats for Office 365 are up 88 percent from a year ago.

How screen size factors in

Currently, we are also using screen size to delineate between professional and personal use. Based on our research, we are classifying anything with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less as a true mobile device: You’re probably using it on the go, when it’s not practical to use a larger computing device such as a PC or a Mac. You probably aren’t using a mouse or a keyboard, instead navigating via touch interface. It’s probably not a “pro” category tablet that is used for design or presentations. On these devices, the core editing and viewing experience is free, until you get to those premium, subscription features.

Looking ahead

With all of that said, we plan to keep up with that one constant—change. Now that Office is available for Windows, Android and iOS, we are investing in strategic partnerships with device makers. Availability across platforms has become an expectation for the one-in-seven people that use Office every day—and we deliver that by ensuring Office is immediately available on any device.

Yesterday we announced that Samsung, Dell and others will bring the Office app experience to their Android devices later this year. Pre-installing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype directly onto devices literally hand delivers the entire productivity suite to users around the globe.

We are excited to see what people do with those tools, and we are excited to watch as manufacturers continue to innovate. As new device categories and usage scenarios arise, we will examine them to ensure we offer the best possible experience for our customers, in a way that makes sense for Microsoft as well.

—Kirk Koenigsbauer

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