Low Office for Mac Pricing Reflects Google Effect

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Microsoft on Monday announced pricing for its Office 2011 for Mac productivity suite, and the cost savings are dramatic, particularly for business users. Redmond's two editions of Office 2011 for Mac, slated to ship in October, will cost 20 to 50 percent less than their Office 2008 predecessors.

Specifically, Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 will cost $119 for a single license, and $149 for a family pack that installs on up to three Macs. By comparison, Office 2008 Home and Student Edition costs $149.

Not impressed? Well, the price cut is downright jaw-dropping for the Office 2011 professional edition. Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 will cost $199 for a single license, and $279 for two machines. That's a huge reduction from the $399 business version of Office 2008.

Microsoft's aggressive pricing is certainly good news for Mac shops planning to upgrade to Office 2011. But what's behind Redmond's cost-cutting ways?

Some pretty loud footsteps, probably.

It's no secret that Google's slate of office productivity tools, including Google Docs, is gaining adherents in businesses both small and large. And Google last week announced a new edition of its cloud-based Google Apps messaging and collaboration software for government customers.

However, the search giant's business-software launch hasn't been perfect. The company recently missed a June deadline to deliver a secure e-mail system to the City of Los Angeles, which plans to replace its current Novell Groupwise platform with Google's more economical Gmail. And the powerful Microsoft Office is far more sophisticated than Google's relatively feeble competitor, an advantage that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

Still, Microsoft's 50-percent price cut for the business edition of Office 2011 sends a not-too-subtle message to Mac business users: Don't leave us.

Interestingly, Redmond didn't adopt the same bargain-bonanza strategy with Office 2010 for Windows, which arrived in June. Oddly enough, the company even dropped its traditional upgrading pricing, which offered a discount to users moving up from an earlier version to Office.

For business users, the end of upgrade pricing makes Office 2010 a less-appealing proposition. Office 2010 Professional's single-license key card version is $349--that's about $20 more than Office 2007 Professional's upgrade price. The boxed version of Office 2010 Professional is even higher at $499

Office 2010 is still new, however, and it remains to be seen how enthusiastically both business and consumer users respond to Microsoft's pricing.

If a migration to Google Docs picks up steam, it wouldn't be a shocker to see those Office 2011 for Mac discounts migrate to Office 2010 too.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter http://twitter.com/jbertolucci or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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