Microsoft is hoping to boost the number of people paying for Office 365, its subscription-based cloud productivity suite, by bundling in a 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscription for free.
Anyone that buys and activates an Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 University annual subscription, or the physical boxed product for either package, before September 28 will be eligible for the offer.
Consumers will then be able to redeem their Xbox Live code by signing in with their Microsoft account email and password chosen during the initial setup for their Office 365 subscription.
The offer is available starting today in the following 39 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Office 365 was launched in June 2011 as a way to target enterprise customers, small businesses and the education market. While the standalone version of Microsoft Office 2013 trundles on – it’s still possible to buy applications such as Word, Outlook and Excel individually – it’s clear that Microsoft wants to moves its customers over to Office 365.
The benefits are twofold; Microsoft is able to release new, smaller updates at a rapid pace and also fix any known issues with greater ease, while also enjoying a more consistent and steady flow of revenue.
Office 365 launched for the iPhone in June, giving iOS users the ability to view and edit any file previously saved in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. There’s no iPad version just yet, but it’s clear that Microsoft is trying to improve the perceived value of an active Office 365 subscription.
The offer of an Xbox Live Gold subscription, on the surface, appears to be a play towards students and the twenty-something year-old stereotype that’s deemed to be a so-called ‘gamer’ and heading off to University. That maybe true, but video games are also enjoyed by all sorts of different consumers in almost every conceivable age group, so the appeal of this particular discount could be much broader.
Microsoft’s next-generation gaming console, Xbox One, will also likely require that consumers have an Xbox Live Gold subscription to access premium apps and online features. Given the renewed emphasis on the device as a set-top box – the Xbox One will enable consumers to switch between live television and Xbox functionality using Kinect – a Gold subscription could be tempting to families too.
The deal announced today is unlikely to cause a unprecendented spike in Office 365 users. It does show, however, what Microsoft is prepared to offer to transition its users from single purchase Office 2013 apps – and also how strong the Xbox brand and its attached services have become.
Update: Microsoft has confirmed that the offer is now available in the United States. Our article has been updated to reflect this.
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