Microsoft Adds 'Family' and 'Personal' SKUs to Microsoft 365 Line
- By Kurt Mackie
- March 31, 2020
Microsoft is readying two new consumer editions of Microsoft 365 for release in April.
The new "Microsoft 365 Personal" and "Microsoft 365 Family" subscriptions, announced on Monday, will give consumer users access to applications such as Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
Currently, Microsoft offers consumer products under the "Office 365" brand, such as Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home and Student 2019. An Office 365 Family product isn't in that lineup, but users with Office 365 Home subscriptions can currently share access with "up to five people" in a household, which could be considered a family subscription.
In addition to announcing the new Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family products, Microsoft on Monday disclosed the renaming of its small-to-medium Office 365 products to "Microsoft 365," which will take effect on April 21.
Possibly, Microsoft will swap in the "Microsoft 365" label for all of its consumer Office products, as well, but if so, the announcement didn't describe it. The spokesperson didn't clarify this matter, but did indicate that Microsoft plans to continue to sell its perpetual-license versions of Office to consumers.
"Microsoft will also continue to sell the perpetual Office suites, like Office Home & Student 2019, for those customers who only want our classic Office apps as a one-time purchase," the spokesperson indicated.
In addition to the product renaming, Microsoft announced new features to come, typically in the context of the coming Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family products. Here's the rough timeline for feature and product arrival, per the announcement:
The new Office features start rolling out to current Office 365 customers today. Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions will be available worldwide on April 21st.
The Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family offerings will have the same capabilities as existing consumer offerings, and the price isn't changing. They'll offer access to Office apps, 1TB of storage using the OneDrive service, security features, tech support and 60 minutes of Skype calling, the announcement indicated.
Microsoft Word has an updated Editor capability with more advanced artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that rolled out on March 30, according to the spokesperson. It also will be in the Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family products, along with other refinements.
"Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers have access to advanced grammar and style refinements to write with more clarity and conciseness," the announcement indicated regarding the new Editor capability.
The enhanced Editor feature in Word will have a Rewrite Suggestions option, as well as an anti-plagiarism solution. The latter solution will let users insert a citation "with just a click." It'll have style checks on "clarity, conciseness, formality, and inclusiveness."
The AI capabilities behind the enhanced Editor feature stem from the Azure AI service, according to a Monday announcement by John "JG" Chirapurath, general manager for Azure Data and AI.
An advanced Editor feature also will be coming to "email (Outlook.com and Outlook for the web), and across the web (through our new browser extension)," Microsoft indicated in another announcement. That announcement suggested that the browser extension would be arrive "in the next few weeks" (a beta is available here). The "general availability" or commercial release of the new Editor capability is planned for "the end of April."
PowerPoint Presenter Coach Additions
Presenter Coach is a currently available feature in PowerPoint that gauges effectiveness in presentations, such as speaking speed. Microsoft on Monday introduced new checks on "monotone pitch and speech refinement," which are "two new AI-powered features" in Presenter Coach that are "exclusively for Microsoft 365 subscribers."
Timing for the arrival of those two new Presenter Coach features wasn't announced, but Microsoft plans to offer a preview generally. Later, it'll just offer these features only to Microsoft 365 subscribers.
Microsoft 365 PowerPoint users also will get "exclusive access" to 8,000 images and 175 videos from Getty Images, the announcement promised. New fonts, icons and templates also will get added for Microsoft 365 subscribers at some point.
Money in Excel
Microsoft has partnered with Plaid to enable Microsoft Excel spreadsheet applications to connect with bank and credit card transaction data. This Money in Excel addition will enable users to track things like monthly spending. They can get "alerts about price changes for recurring payments, bank fees, overdraft warnings, and more," the announcement suggested. Plaid's role is to provide the "permissioned connection" to the financial accounts, according to a Plaid announcement.
Microsoft indicated that "Money in Excel will start to become available in the coming months in the U.S. first."
New data types and templates in Excel also are getting added, which let users pull in information about nutrition, geography and stocks, for instance. They'll be available for Office Insiders "this spring" and will arrive for "Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers in English in the coming months," the announcement indicated.
Other New Features
Other applications are getting enhancements, too.
The browser-based Outlook on the Web app is getting the ability to link a personal calendar with a work calendar.
A "Play my Emails" Cortana feature on Android devices will "begin rolling out in the coming months," Microsoft indicated.
Microsoft Search is coming to Android and iOS devices.
The Skype communication service, now used by "40 million people" daily, has a new "Meet Now" feature for setting up meetings quickly.
The Microsoft Teams collaboration service will be getting previews of new features "in the coming months" for the mobile app. These new features will let users do things like collaborate using "shared to-do lists," organize using shared calendars and store their passwords, the announcement promised.
A new addition arriving in the coming months is "Microsoft Family Safety," which is "a new mobile experience coming on iOS and Android for Microsoft 365 subscribers." It'll let parents track their kids' locations and activities, and block content as they browse the Web. It's apparently at preview now, and will be available as a free version downloadable from the Microsoft Store, according to the spokesperson.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.