Microsoft today added Office 2013 to the Home Use Program (HUP), which lets employees of some companies and organizations buy the new suite for $9.95.
The deal had been tipped previously by several sources, including a Microsoft HUP marketing portal, which yesterday noted that promotional materials would be available to volume licensees on Jan. 17. Vanderbilt University had also told its faculty and staff that Office 2013 would be hit HUP no later than the middle of this month.
Enterprises and organizations with Software Assurance (SA) plans can enable HUP for employees, who register for the discounted copy of Office 2013 using their work email address and a program code obtained from their IT department. SA is an annuity-like program where firms pay Microsoft set fees per license over a multi-year span for the right to upgrade to any new versions of a particular product.
For $9.95, employees can download Office Professional Plus 2013, a volume license-only edition that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath and Lync.
Alternately, workers can purchase Office for Mac Home & Business 2011 for $9.95. That edition includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
Software obtained through HUP is intended for use on workers' home PCs or Macs, and its use is tied to the company's or organization's continued SA payments.
Employees can obtain either Office Professional Plus for Windows or Office for Mac 2011, but not both. They can also purchase the suite on physical media for an additional $14; that DVD includes both the 32- and 64-bit editions and can be used to reinstall Office after, for instance, a hard drive disaster or a change of machines.
Those who had previously purchased an older copy of Office through HUP -- say, Office Professional Plus 2010 -- must again pay the $9.95 fee to buy Office 2013 as an upgrade.
The appearance of Office 2013 on HUP is another clue that the retail launch of the new suite is imminent. Based on previous Office release schedules, Computerworld has forecast a late-January or very early-February introduction.
As an aside, Vanderbilt University also said that it expected Microsoft to release an upgraded edition of Office for Mac -- the school called it "Office 2014" -- "during the second half of 2014." Previously, Microsoft has declined to comment on a timetable for the next iteration of Office on OS X.
Microsoft has published more information about HUP in a comprehensive online FAQ.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.