Microsoft and Google are in a price war over your office documents — and Microsoft just took a big swing.
Microsoft says it is giving away unlimited storage to customers who buy the cloud version of its Microsoft Office software, called “Office 365.”
This one-ups what Google is doing with its paid versions of Google Drive, called Google Drive for Work. Google Drive for Work costs as little as $US5/user/month and restricts you to 30 gigabytes of online storage. For $US10/user/month, you get 1 terabyte of online storage, until you add 6 people to the account ($US60/month) and then storage is unlimited.
To be fair, the paid versions of Google Drive are really geared toward business users, and businesses are biting. Google recently said it is signing up 1,800 new customers a week for the service.
But Microsoft is doing well attracting consumers to Office 365, too. Microsoft launched Office 365 in early 2013, adding support for the iPad early in 2014. Microsoft now has 7 million customers for the product, the company said last week, and grew by 25% last quarter alone.
For those buying Microsoft Office for personal or family use, Office 365 is arguably a better deal than a paid version of Google Apps.
For the $US6/month “Personal” version of Office 365, you’ll get one account that has now has unlimited storage, plus copies of the Microsoft Office software that runs on your PC (Mac or Windows) and a tablet (iPad or Windows), for offline usage. And you can access these files on your phone, too (any flavour).
For $US10/month, you can get the Home edition of Office 365, which now includes unlimited storage. Plus you can install this on 5 devices, meaning you can share it across five people with different accounts. If you pay annually, it will cost $US100/year.
Some students can get Office 365 for free, too, if their universities are offering that. And in some cases, these accounts will now come with unlimited free storage, too.
To compare, for $US10/month, Dropbox gives you 1 terabyte of cloud storage, which is a LOT of storage — enough to hold millions of documents or 17,000 hours of music or 310,000 photos.
But it’s hard to argue with unlimited, especially if it comes attached to a bunch of useful apps.
If, one day, you decide to stop paying for Office, files stored on your PC, or even in your cloud, won’t go away. You can open them with another program, though you might lose some formatting. The software installed on your PC won’t vanish either, though it will stop working.