On the Office 365 end, the suite will become available to the Open Volume Licensing program on March 1, according to a blog post earlier this year from Microsoft Sales Excellence Program Manager Eric Ligman. The Office 365 Open licensing program — which would let Microsoft partners directly bill their customers for use of the suite as well as bundle it with other services — was first announced at last summer’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto.

Consumer versions of Office 365 — Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University — hit general availability at the end of January. Also available at that time were traditional perpetual-license suites, including Office Home & Student 2013, Office Home & Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013. Versions for businesses — Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Small Business and Office 365 Midsize Business — were expected at press time to become available for purchase on the Web on Feb. 27.

Besides a new tile-based UI, Microsoft updated Office 365 with a new subscription-based pricing plan for consumers, a shift from the traditional perpetual-licensing model. “Instead of buying a copy of Office once every four years or so for a single PC or Mac, small businesses and consumers will be able to buy it once a year for five PCs or Macs,” explained RCP‘s Kurt Mackie. “Incentives under the subscription model include the ability to run Office on up to five PCs or Macs — or any combination of the two, according to a Microsoft spokesperson; increased Microsoft SkyDrive online storage; and the assurance of having the most up-to-date Office software.”

A senior Microsoft PR manager within the Office Division said the company plans to update Office 365 more frequently than it has in the past. “We’ll be releasing [Office 365] updates at a much more regular basis,” the PR manager said. “Much more frequently — multiple times per year.”