Office 2013 officially went on sale to consumers today. How much will you pay? The cheapest subscription version is $119 a year in Australia, which gives you five licences which you can install on either PCs or Macs.
The Home Premium edition of Office 365 (the name for the subscription release) costs $119 a year. That includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher and Access, as well as 60 minutes of Skype calls a month and 20GB of online storage through SkyDrive. The apps are installed on your local machine, not accessed online.
If you don't want a subscription version, you can purchase a single conventional licence of Office for $599, which includes the same software (but no Skype or SkyDrive). This pricing is clearly intended to dissuade home users from buying the full standalone edition. That price equates to five years' subscription, and only covers a single machine, so it's hard to see any context where it will be better value.
Two more stripped back standalone editions exist: Home And Student 2013 ($169) and Home and Business ($299). Both contain Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote; Home and Business also adds Outlook. Again, the pricing makes a subscription look favourable in most circumstances.
Those prices are slightly higher than the US, where the Home Premium subscription costs $US99. Microsoft matched US pricing for Windows 8 in Australia, so we had hoped the same would happen with Office, but it wasn't to be. That said, the pricing is considerably lower than with previous versions of Office. You're locked into a licence if you want to use the software, but that's effectively costing $24 a year per person.
For a full rundown on what's new in Office 2013, check out our overview. No word yet on new small business prices or retail availability for box copies; we'll update if we hear anything.