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Microsoft is adding new features its least expensive Office 365 subscription tier, the Kiosk Worker Plan. For a few additional dollars per user per month, users receive some useful capabilities and twice the email storage.

Office for Everyone

Office 365 is a software and services offering from Microsoft that includes Microsoft Office and cloud-based access to Exchange, SharePoint and the software formerly known as Communications Server -- Lync. Microsoft might dominate the desktop market, but it has faced considerable competition in the cloud from players such as Google, Zoho and to some degree, SalesForce, which is likely why Microsoft continues to tweak its offerings since its release last summer.

The latest batch of changes affects the lowest subscription levels, the kiosk worker plans:

  • K1 -- Costs US$ 4 per user per month and targets users without a dedicated PC who need occasional access to Web email and internal sites and only view Office documents
  • K2 -- Costs US$ 10 per user per month and targets users without a dedicated PC who need occasional access to Web email and internal sites; users can view and make basic edits to Office documents

There is also an Exchange Online Kiosk plan that includes basic messaging and calendaring for US$ 2 per user per month. Microsoft has decided to add a few bells and whistles to these bare-bones subscription levels.

The New K-Plan

K-plan subscribers will soon have several new options. Key changes include:

  • Support for Exchange ActiveSynch -- This will allow users to synchronize email to their mobile devices using ActiveSynch instead of the much less full-featured POP protocol
  • Doubling email storage from 500MB to 1GB
  •  Support for Exchange Online Archiving (EOA), including legal hold and unlimited, as an add-on; Microsoft is also offering this add-on for other subscription levels

Microsoft has not announced when the latest batch of changes will be available, but Office 365 has a quarterly release cycle, so the end of Q1 2012 is a reasonable assumption. The new features will cost US$ 3.50 per user per month, but they are not required. If users elect not to use the new features, their k-plan pricing will remain unchanged.