Microsoft Reportedly Working on a Consumer Version of Microsoft 365

Posted on December 12, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Microsoft, Microsoft 365, Office 365, Windows 10 with 61 Comments

Microsoft is reportedly working on making a consumer version of its Microsoft 365 service. The company provides Microsoft 365 subscription as an all-in-one solution to its enterprise and education customers, giving them access to products like Windows, Office, and EMS on a subscription basis.

The new consumer version of the service will simply be called Microsoft 365 Consumer, according to ZDNet. That’s obviously not a brilliant name, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from Microsoft.

Microsoft is hiring a Product Manager for the new Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription, but details on the service are unclear. It’s not clear exactly how Microsoft will tackle the pricing of the subscription, for one. Plus, on the consumer side, most of Microsoft’s services are free, so the features of the service will be quite interesting.

Mary Jo Foley predicts that the subscription could give users access to Windows 10 Home, Office 365 Home, Skype, Outlook, Cortana, Bing, and Microsoft To-Do. That’d be a perfect bundle for a consumer who lives on the Microsoft ecosystem, though I’m not sure if it will get much traction unless it’s priced cheaper than Office 365 Home.

Most consumers already have a licensed version of Windows 10 that came pre-installed with their device, so they wouldn’t really need Windows 10 Home separately — and unless Microsoft 365 Consumer is cheaper than Office 365 itself, I doubt any regular user would really want to pay for Microsoft 365 Consumer. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what Microsoft does with Microsoft 365 going forward.

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Comments (61)

61 responses to “Microsoft Reportedly Working on a Consumer Version of Microsoft 365”

  1. Avatar

    yoshi

    Oh man, that guy at Forbes is going to have a field day with this news.

  2. Avatar

    melinau

    I've no issue with paying for software. I currently pay for O365, and I get a good, secure service because I try to limit Faustian pacts which trade my identity and habits for software & services.

    Clearly there is a limit to what I can afford, and MS should be aware that they will be competing against (often inferior) "Free" programs from the likes of Google et al.


    Office 365 has been very stable, reliable and available for me (I know there have been issues). Windows, OTOH has become increasingly unreliable & buggy, after a good start with W10. Any "bundle" will need to do a much better job of working properly than MS have thus-far achieved.


    I don't think I'm alone inasmuch as I'll pay for quality, security and reliability. Over to you Microsoft.

  3. Avatar

    dcdevito

    I don't see a value proposition here for this, compared to Office 365 Home/Personal.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to dcdevito:

      Excatly, it is Office 365 + some free products the user already has access to, plus the version of Windows already installed on his machine.

      If there was some sort of family management there, for example, Teams for Families and InTune for Families, it might make some sense, but as it stands, I don't see any benefits, unless it is just a rebranding to drop the word Office.

  4. Avatar

    cadrethree

    This might tempt me to come back to Windows. If they make it multiple Windows liscenses, office, it's really convenient for a family to justify. Maybe an option to pause the service like Netflix. The only thing stopping me is that Microsoft doesn't have a phone, which is my daily computer. The phone ties things together with my computer needs. So unless they get an Android liscense and make a phone loaded with their apps I don't see me returning to Windows or Microsoft. They have almost no consumer programs people care about, IMHO. So until they get some? Google killed off the need to have Microsoft around, and will slowly follow suit in the business world.


    The faster Microsoft gets the new paradigm that they are in the business of selling access to their portfolio of bundled software, not standalone boxed versions of each software monthly, the better off they will be. Maybe you don't make as much money in the short to mid-term selling a very cheap (5.99 or less) monthly service as individual boxed versions, but it's a long con-game. Better get that next generation before this current Windows generation dies out. And yes I do know Microsoft has been trying to sell Windows as a service for eons, now. Heck they need to include price discounts for members on stuff in their physical stores like surface, Microsoft hardware, games, etc. Basically rip off what Amazon does with their Prime membership. Look at the mountain of perks through Amazon Prime vs a To-do-list through Microsoft's program. Wow! That's what this new program from Microsoft needs to copy Amazon Prime to succeed and be around in 30 years.

    This service would probably work better on Windows Lite if it's just fed thru the web browser. Anymore I consider the Chromebook a power computer, and I'm looking to buy one as my only computer, the first new one for me since 2005. I've had computers since the late 80's, but haven't used one daily since 2013, just about the time Android was getting better. I don't think I'm alone and that's what most people will eventually move to, Chromebook, Android phone for their computer needs. IOS being a distant second in consumer, with Windows being used in business until Google kicks them out of that area too.

    • Avatar

      Rickard Eriksson

      In reply to cadrethree:
      If you are not doing anything remotely difficult, a phone or chromebook can possibly be enough by why would you ever need even Windows Lite by then?

      Windows home would be far to complex for your needs in that case.

      This subscription idea would be worthless for me as it does not even include Windows Pro and Home dont even have the things i need to have control over my pc.

      Of course i would never pay for a subscription Windows in the first place anyway so its a moot point.


      • Avatar

        cadrethree

        In reply to Rickard Eriksson:


        I don't think any homeowner needs Windows anymore, though. If though they were to offer a cheap and I mean cheap sub, why wouldn't people get one as insurance? Most people spend more on coffee and lunch. But they would have to offer new and exciting software, discounts on their hardware stuff, games etc. A poor man's Amazon Prime or Hulu. Then it's just another sub that doesn't cost too much and not worth the hassle of cancelling.

        • Avatar

          Rickard Eriksson

          In reply to cadrethree:

          Homeowner as in basic user no probably not and that is what i meant. If you already use your computer mostly for mail and casual web surfing and some basic writing from time to time then there is no real need for even windows 10 home or office for that matter.

          You also have to plan a subscription model after where it is sold. Cheap mean nothing without context and what could be cheap for a person in wealthier countries could be very expensive in other parts of the world.
          Not to mention cash strapped families or students.

          Personally i am against a subscription model in general because i like to know i can use my software when i need it and that i wont be suffering from companies bad uptime or problems with their infrastructure.


  5. Avatar

    Dave

    Possibly two subscription models? Firstly the 'free' model based on advertising revenue and the second model a monthly payment for an advert free experience. A bit like the Kindle really.

  6. Avatar

    wright_is

    Doesn't make much sense...

    Windows 10 Home - is on the PC anyway, so no added value, supplying Pro would be good.

    Office 365 Home - is available now as a subsription, makes sense to bundle it up.

    Skype - is free, and you get an hour of Skype Out with Office 365 Home.

    Outlook - is free.

    Bing - is a free search engine

    Microsoft ToDo - is free? and you already have OneNote in Office 365.

    So, something you already have, plus Office 365 Home, plus a bunch of free services in a subscription? Sounds rather odd.


    The value of Microsoft 365 for businesses is InTune, Windows 10 Enterprise (which can't be bought separately with a PC, you either need M365 or a volume license), CALs for file, print, Exchange, SQLServer and Terminal Server, Office 365 Pro Plus, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint online, Teams/Skype for Business, central managment, Azure AD / Azure Hybrid AD, Exchange Online and a bunch of other stuff.

    That makes the deal very interesting, even if you don't use th cloudy bits (due to data protection, we can't use Teams, Exchange Online, OneDrive, Sharepoint or Azure (Hybrid) AD), Microsoft 365 can still make sense. But for the home user, with the benefits listed, I just don't see what it offers over and above a normal Office 365 subscription.

  7. Avatar

    damienmci

    I'd like to see Teams integrated with O365 Home and/or Microsoft 365 Consumer. Family teams site for all members of the Home subscription, with little setup effort.

  8. Avatar

    John Jackson

    The status quo where users obtain a cheap, perpetual Windows Home license with a new machine does not fit the new strategy to switch all users to (higher) subscription rates. One scenario which MSFT have no doubt been considering is to make Windows S the base offering and all other OS editions subscriptions: retaining the base of Windows devices but ‘encouraging’ the transition to the more expensive subscription model. Thankfully S has proved as popular as Windows 8. There is also the difficulty of a lapsed subscription necessitating a forced downgrade.

    After the traitorous renege on the unlimited Onedrive storage with Office 365 MSFT will also be wary of an ‘all you can eat’ buffet option.

    While a family of 6 active users might well obtain value in an Office 365 subscription … MSFT may now wish to offer something to singles and couples, for whom the current annual subscription used to be the payment for 3 perpetual licenses (the lack of upgrades not being a major issue due to the maturity of the Office applications).

    MSFT must also think this is the right time to implement a new regime since the free upgrades to Windows 10 will expire naturally as devices die: it will be essential that new machines enter the new arrangement.


    I can see the following scenario:

    -         A new OEM machine will come with a 1 year subscription to the OS, so instead of the hidden 40 for perpetual Windows Home it will be 15 p.a. A new machine will thus be cheaper to begin … but if it survives 3 year or more it will make more money for MSFT.

    -         The 120 for Windows Pro might be 40 p.a. … and there will be rates for the Pro for Workstations editions too. It would actually be useful to be able to switch machines down e.g. I might want to downgrade my workstation after 3 years when I replace it with a faster machine and relegate the old device to lighter duties

    -         Office 365 Small Home for 1-2 users at a sub. of 40 p.a.? (Could cannibalise the 6-user variant though.)

    -         Incremental subs. for TB’s of Onedrive storage seems easy enough.

    -         XBOX stuff - just another product with a sub. - and more products the same

    -         Bundles could be discounted according to the number of products purchased and, if MSFT happen to bump into the word ‘loyalty’ in the dictionary, the number of years subscribed.


    Lest readers think I like these ideas let me tell you I hate subscriptions with a vengeance. My oldest PC (currently with a neighbour doing light duties) will be 11 in January 2019 and has seen VISTA, W7, 8, 8.1 and is running Windows Pro x64 1809 and Office 2007 very happily. The OS subscription alone, calculated as above, would have been 440 (or 3*40+8*15) = 240 if I could downgrade).


    Unless MSFT offer a subscription rate based on many years usage, say 7-8, then I would avoid it like the plague. The other fundamental problem with the subscription model is that once instituted all subscribers become serfs subject to the will of their overlord: should MSFT decide to increase subs. you have nowhere to go. Given MSFT's consumer treatment history buying a perpetual license up front is good insulation, rather like buying the farm instead of working it under constant threat of a rent increase.

    • Avatar

      Stooks

      In reply to JackoUK:

      Nice conspiracy.


      As long as there is a "Windows 10" Microsoft will not get rid of a copy of Windows coming with a new computer. Maybe HUGE MAYBE if they release a new version, say Windows 11 that is only subscription but I highly doubt that.


      This new service will probably come with Office 365 Personal, Windows 10 home with some extra thing like intune/Defender ATP support and maybe some amount of Skype phone time. The cost will probably be around the $100 mark. If you own a computer with Windows 10 then the extra intune or defender ATP will be worth it....maybe.

  9. Avatar

    MikeGalos

    Realistically, this would just be a change to the Office 365 Home installer to install and configure those apps and services. Not a big deal.


    I AM amused, however, that Mehedi thinks that they'd have to charge LESS for the bundle than for Office itself. I'm pretty sure that Office plus extra products at the same price as Office without them would sell just fine. A bit of editorial Microsoft bashing, Mehedi?

  10. Avatar

    red.radar

    I think this is a means to transfer business models for windows. A means to decouple windows revenue from pc hardware cycles.


    All they need to do is get the average person to pay 15 bucks a year and in 4 - 5 years they break even based on pc hardware replacement cycles.


    Throw in some window dressing services to create a bundle so customers perceive value and they will snatch it up. And they can bury the cost of maintaining windows into this service fee with other things .... office , Skype , Xbox ... OneDrive.


    i bet it’s 12.99 a month with different upgrade tiers and 2 bucks goes to teams maintaining windows




  11. Avatar

    Daniel Kay

    There needs to be a Windows 10 Pro version in there.


    My laptop came with home, and I'd happily have an Microsoft 365 subscription that let's me upgrade to the pro version - which I need for Hyper-V for development work

  12. Avatar

    Wondering_Bard

    Here's what makes sense to me:


    Microsoft 365 Family

    * Office Home x 5 accounts

    * 2TB of OneDrive x5 accounts

    * Retail Windows license x5 - note, these are licenses you can take with you everywhere, even to custom PC builds, Windows Lite computers, etc.

    * Active and automatic push sync for Apps, PWAs, Settings, and Document / Pictures / Music / Videos folders. Backup/sync does not count against OneDrive storage. Logging into a new computer with your account automatically pushes docs, settings, and apps to the new device.

    * Outlook.com premium x 5 accounts

    * Simple version of Intune, probably called "Intune for Family" or "Family Management"

    * Defender ATP because everyone else is saying it

    * Skype credits because they can't help themselves.

    * Discounted "+ Gaming" addon with Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass


    Price? I'd say $20 / month or $200 annually. Add another $10 / month or $100 annually for + Gaming bundle.

  13. Avatar

    TBarney

    What if it included "Desktop as a service" in Azure? A virtual desktop accessible from any device. Windows update and malware prevention/removal would be handled by MS and they could sell lightweight devices that just remote into the virtual desktop. They could also have "Calendar as a service" hosted in Azure for a cheap device that would display a family calendar that is generated in Azure. Maybe a home hub that is relatively inexpensive and has low processing power but just displays screens generated in Azure. All the processing is done in Azure and Azure becomes the worlds computer. Weather, traffic, Cortana, etc could be delivered this way. Maybe you could take all this functionality with you with a small mobile device with maybe 2 screens. ;)

  14. Avatar

    richfrantz

    As we already have most of this now, maybe it will include a Surface device every 2 years, like a phone contract.

  15. Avatar

    rupertholmes

    I find little value in 365, except for the OneDrive portion. Need a reasonably priced OneDrive standalone. OneDrive should not cost more than ICloud.

  16. Avatar

    Steve Martin

    Probably won't allow multiple computer setups. Advantage of the Personal(?) Edition of O365 is I can install it on my Desktop and Laptop and share with a couple of family members. At the time I first got it, this was cheaper than the Home version that only allowed one machine!

  17. Avatar

    txag

    I've just retired from a job that required me to use high level components of Excel and Powerpoint. I really needed full fledged Office, and thus Windows. Now that I don't need the high end parts any more, this would not be a product I'd be very interested in unless it turns out to be far less expensive than I think it would be. My current needs are more basic documents and simple spreadsheets for things like budgets and record keeping.


    In terms of functionality, a Chromebook would be fine, except that I refuse to do it with Google. If I could get a laptop with the advantages of a Chromebook, minus the spyware, I'd be glad to pay for it.


  18. Avatar

    harmjr

    They only way i can see this being viable is if they come up with new items to add on the consumer side like Teams. I just dont know what new app would get users to jump on this. On the flip side they could start charging for the items they currently give away.

  19. Avatar

    ph-sth

    This is where Groove Music Pass and its ilk should have found itself, unless Microsoft can strike deals with Spotify and other providers. A purely 'productivity' based full Microsoft subscription service is about as exciting as launching IBM Notes. It would have been those leisure add-ons that could have given it a lift to the person in the street.

  20. Avatar

    skane2600

    Wow, with this bundle you can get a discount on products like Bing! It's almost like Microsoft is giving it away.


  21. Avatar

    michaelmartinez

    I currently do not see an opening for such a product given how much of it is already priced; as other products are free. However, we'll have to wait and see what other propositions will be included.

  22. Avatar

    manzo

    Now, if it was a bundle of Office 365 and Xbox Live Gold, that could work.

  23. Avatar

    shameermulji

    "Mary Jo Foley predicts that the subscription could give users access to Windows 10 Home, Office 365 Home, Skype, Outlook, Cortana, Bing, and Microsoft To-Do"


    With the exception of Office 365, aren't the rest already free?

  24. Avatar

    glenn8878

    They're repackaging a product that no one needs.

  25. Avatar

    SherlockHolmes

    I would buy it, when I can get rid of all the things I dont like. Like Cortana and Edge.

  26. Avatar

    jgraebner

    From the description, I wonder if this would be a replacement/re-branding of Office 365 instead of an additional offering.

    • Avatar

      Polycrastinator

      In reply to jgraebner:

      That sounds likely. I do think the folks who look to buy this are going to be Prosumers, though, and perhaps bundling Windows 10 Pro might get a lot more interest. You might just be able to justify $130/yr that way rather than the $100 for O365 Home, otherwise I think it has to be the same price.

      • Avatar

        wright_is

        In reply to Polycrastinator:

        Yes, bundling Windows 10 Home is silly, you have to have a computer with Windows on it to start with, which means you have at least a Home edition installed...

        Plus a bunch of free services, plus Office 365...

        That said, I've already updated all of my home PCs to Windows 10 Pro, so too late for me, this time around.

  27. Avatar

    yaddamaster

    Sheer brilliance on display. Having already done it's level-best to destroy consumer interest in Microsoft products, MS marketing is now creating a useless product differentiation.


    Idiotic doesn't begin to describe.

  28. Avatar

    sethb

    Since I already have Office 365 Home, the only thing that'd be appealing to me is bundling in Xbox Live at a discount vs. buying them separately...

  29. Avatar

    Rob_Wade

    I'm trying to figure out the value-added piece to this. We already have Skype, Cortana, Bing and OneNote for free, and we are happy owners of Office 365 Home. What would this do differently?

  30. Avatar

    falonyn

    I repeatedly heard a while back that the subscription service was for Enterprise only and that it was not being looked at for consumer. There were some jokes made that thoughts/conspiracies Microsoft would make Windows for consumers a subscription were over blown.


    And here it is. . . I am not saying that Windows as a subscription service ONLY is anywhere on the horizon yet, but we are going one step further down the proverbial slope. Expect to hear the conspiracies pop up again and this time around, it is a little harder to tell them they are wrong.


    What happens to your computer if you cancel your subscription? Would you simply no longer get updates or would your Windows install stop working until you pay/signup? Maybe offer the subscription or a full license? I imagine you would buy computers pre-loaded with the subscription as the default.


    Do I still have ads and bloatware when I am paying every month?

    • Avatar

      lvthunder

      In reply to falonyn:

      Well a while back what people were saying was true. It was enterprise only. Even now it's just something they are looking at. They may decide to cancel it like many other products Microsoft has either delayed or canceled.

  31. Avatar

    waethorn

    Here comes Windows-as-a-Subscription.

    • Avatar

      Stooks

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Nope.


      Maybe enough extra stuff bundled with Windows, like itune, defender ATP and support for that to be a reason for someone to go with this new option. Of course with Office 365 personal as well in the package.


      However buying a PC with Windows 10 will not go away but neither will you get the extra's that are only offered to business customers now, that maybe in this new offering/s.


      It could impact your business by providing users with enough support so as not to go to you in some cases. Then again you probably peddle that Google garbage so I am not sure if it will impact you.

  32. Avatar

    RM

    I am wondering if this is for a family or covers all devices in a household. There must be some benefit. Maybe ISO with everything preinstalled.

  33. Avatar

    Lewk

    Maybe it might include an Xbox subscription as well?

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to Lewk:

      That is a very limited market. The number of Xbox users / gamers is a very small percentage of Windows users. It would have to be practically a free add-on for most people, if it raises the price of the bundle significantly, they would be shooting themselves in the foot.

  34. Avatar

    yoshi

    Maybe Windows Lite will become the standard for OEMs and this consumer M365 will be the upgrade if users decide Lite isn’t enough.


    Just tossing out some random thoughts.

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