Unlike Adobe, Microsoft won't abandon packaged software

Microsoft's Office will continue to sell as both packaged software and subscription service. The company also updated its Office Web Apps to work with Android.

Jay Greene
Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
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Microsoft Office 365 launch at New York's Bryant Park in January. Microsoft

A day after Adobe Systems killed its Creative Suite software, moving instead to a Web-based subscription service, Microsoft said it would not follow suit with its Office suite of productivity applications--at least not yet.

In a blog post Tuesday, Office spokesman Clint Patterson said that Microsoft, like Adobe, believes in the future of software-as-a-service, in part because the applications can be always up-to-date, and because subscribers can use the applications across a range of devices.

"However, unlike Adobe, we think people's shift from packaged software to subscription services will take time," Patterson wrote.

How much time? Patterson wrote that "within a decade," Microsoft's customers will subscribe to its Web services. That echoes comments Office president Kurt DelBene made in an interview with CNET in January.

"In the meantime, we are committed to offering choice--premier software sold as a package and powerful services sold as a subscription," Patterson wrote.

That said, Microsoft is adding a handful of new features to Office Web Apps, the Web-based companion program to the Office suite that let customers create, collaborate and review content. In a separate blog post Tuesday, Amanda Lefebvre, a technical product marketing manager for Office Web Apps, wrote that the program will now work on the Andriod mobile operating system through Chrome browser support. Office Web Apps already works on iPads.

Microsoft is also tweaking its real-time co-authoring function in Office Web Apps, adding each users' presence, so that the various authors of a document can see who is working on it at any given time. And edits to the documents will happen in real-time so that collaborators can see other users' work as it's being done without having to refresh the document.