Microsoft releases Office 365, a $100-a-year cloud-based service

Microsoft has begun selling subscriptions for Office 365 Home Premium, a cloud-based version of its office suite programs that also includes a handful of additional features.

The cloud service costs $99.99 a year and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. Additionally, Office 365 comes with 20 gigabytes of cloud storage in Microsoft SkyDrive and 60 monthly minutes of world-wide calling through Skype.

"This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.

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The cloud-based service works with up to five devices, including desktops, laptops and tablets. Because it's based in the cloud, the software will also automatically update on its own.

"Now, new features and services stream to subscribers as soon as they are ready," the company said.

Students and academics can buy a less expensive subscription of the service called Office 365 University. That version of the Cloud Service costs $79.99 and lasts four years.

Microsoft said Office 365 for businesses will launch Feb. 27. Anyone can sign up to try out the service free for 30 days on Microsoft's website.


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