Global software behemoth Microsoft has jacked up the prices of its flagship cloud productivity suite Office 365 for the service’s launch in Australia, listing local prices up to 76 percent higher than the exact same service will cost in the United States.
Office 365 is Microsoft’s answer to Google Apps. For a small monthly fee on a per-user basis, customers will be able to access a host of online services which mirror Microsoft’s desktop software, ranging from a popular online version of its Outlook/Exchange collaboration suite, to online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, SharePoint, Lync and more.
However, Australians will pay a great deal more than US customers for the exact same software.
In the US, Microsoft will charge US$6 per month per user for the software — or US$72 a year. In Australian dollars, at current conversion rates, that fee would be AU$5.70. However, in Australia, Microsoft will charge customers AU$7.90 — a fee 38.5 percent higher than the equivalent US fee. And the markups increase if you buy more complete Office 365 enterprise packages from Microsoft — with the third-tier package going for AU$40.10 per user per month — or 76 percent more than the US$24 version.
A Microsoft spokesperson could not immediately comment on the price hike.
It’s not the first time Microsoft has upped its prices for products which are sold in exactly the same models in the US and in Australia. For example, when the company launched its Windows 7 operating system locally in late 2009, locals paid between AU$50 and $150 for the exact same software.
“Our prices vary by region and are determined based on a variety of market specific factors including, but not limited to exchange rate, local taxes, duties, local market conditions and retailer pricing decisions,” a Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au at the time.
Locally, Office 365 will be delivered through Microsoft’s partnership with Telstra, which will be the exclusive reseller of Office 365 to all Australian customers other than those which have an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft. Those enterprise customers will be able to order Office 365 directly.
The move positions Telstra and Optus squarely against each other when it comes to office productivity suites delivered online, with the SingTel subsidiary having recently inked a partnership with Google to sell the search giant’s Google Apps product to customers.
Two companies which have already signed up for Office 365 are local recruitment company Rookie Recruits, and broadcaster SBS Australia.
“Our recruitment company has uniquely tapped into the stay-at-home-mum workforce, which wouldn’t have been possible without cloud technology” said Andy Springer, Co-Founder and Talent Director, Rookie Recruits, in a statement distributed by Microsoft. SBS IT manager Klaus Schelp said the organisation had required a new collaboration platform — including email — that could be delivered quickly and with “minimal disruption”.
“We chose Office 365 as it provides us a tight integration and collaboration and was already familiar to our employees,” he said in Microsoft’s statement. “It also freed up the IT department’s valuable time allowing them instead to focus on business critical projects.”
Microsoft appears to be signing up a number of local partners to help it support Office 365 in Australia, with local companies OSC, Ensyst and Paradyne issuing statements in support of this morning’s launch of the package. It remains unclear to what extent local large Microsoft resellers such as Data#3 and Dimension Data will be involved in supporting the software.
Image credit: Microsoft