Microsoft has quietly raised prices of Office for the Mac as much as 22% and stopped selling multi-license packages of the application suite.

On the UK Microsoft Store Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 (including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook) now retails for £219.99 while Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 (including Word, PowerPoint and Excel) now retails for £109.99.

Previously you could pick up one Home and Business activation of the Business Edition for £189, or £239.99 for two activations. The latest price change is an 16.40% increase.

Home and Student was available for just £89.99, or £109.99 for three activations. The new price is a 22.23% increase.

In the US the single-license Office for Mac Home & Student now costs $140, a 17% increase from the previous price of $120. Office for Mac Home & Business, an edition that adds the Outlook email client to Home & Student's Excel, PowerPoint and Word, runs $220, or 10% higher than the older $200 price, writes Computerworld.

No multi-pack Office for Mac deals

Both versions are now only available for one Mac. This means that a three-license package of Home & Student now costs £329.97, a 200% increase on the previous price.

A two-license bundle of Home & Business will now set you back £439.98, an 88.33% increase on the previous bundle price.

The move puts Office for Mac 2011 on the same pricing schedule as the new Office 2013 for Windows, notes our sister site Computerworld. The price increases and the disappearance of the multi-license bundles also makes Microsoft's Office 365, a software-by-subscription deal the company has aggressively pushed, more competitive with traditional "perpetual" licenses.

The new prices are identical to those of Office 2013 for Windows, as are the percentage increases, notes Computerworld.

Raising prices 'to make Office 365 look good'

It's not clear when Microsoft raised prices. The oldest search engine cache Computerworld found with the new prices was Feb. 2, so the company boosted them before then, likely on Jan. 29, the day it launched Office 2013 and Office 365 Home Premium. Microsoft did not mention the changes to Office for Mac in its press releases that day, or otherwise publicize the move on its Mac-specific website.

The price increases and the killing of the multi-license packs were clearly intended to steer consumers and small businesses to a pair of Office 365 subscription plans.

Office 365 Home Premium, which costs £79.99 annually or £7.99 per month, provides a single household license that lets subscribers install Office for Mac Home & Business - the one that includes Outlook - on up to five Macs; install Office 2013 on up to five Windows machines; or install any combination of Office on five PCs and Macs. Home Premium launched Jan. 29.

Students can purchase a four-year Office 365 University subscription for two PCs or Macs for £59.99.

Microsoft Office 365 is available from £3.90 per user per month for up to 50 users and from £5.20 per user per month for 50+ users, according to Microsoft's site.

This means that under the P1 Plan for Small Business, purchasing a plan for five installations of Office for Mac would cost £3.90 per user/per month. Or £234 a year.

If Microsoft had not raised the prices of Office for Mac and eliminated the multi-license offerings, number-crunching customers would have realized that the subscription plan was no bargain in many scenarios, notes Computerworld.

But the higher prices of the perpetual licenses - the traditional buy-once-use-forever form of Office for Mac - make Office 365 the better deal when deploying four or five of the allowed copies.

Microsoft faced the same pricing dilemma with Office 2010 on Windows, and raised prices of Office 2013 licenses to make them less appetizing when compared to the Office 365 "rent-not-own" plan.

Buyers can still find Office for Mac 2011 at the older, lower prices, however. Although Microsoft has boosted prices on its online store - as has Apple's e-store, which also sells the suite - other retailers have not joined them. Yet.

Office for Mac 2011's new, higher pricing makes Office 365 plans more attractive: If customers install four or five of the allowed five copies of Office, the 'rent-not-buy' Office 365 plans are a better deal.

Additional reporting by Gregg Keizer @gkeizer

See: Microsoft quietly raises prices of Mac Office by up to 17%

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