Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been pushing retail customers to shift from traditional software suite licensing (Office 2013) to subscription pricing (Office 365). So how are retail customers reacting to that sales strategy? The first clues have emerged from NDP Group, which closely tracks retail software and technology sales.

According to NDP, 25 percent of recent Office suite sales at retail have involved the subscription version (Office 365). The other 75 percent involves traditional "perpetual" licenses (Office 2013). The VAR Guy's reaction: That sounds reasonability impressive. The new Office releases and licensing models debuted in January 2013. Only a few months later, 25 percent of buyers seem to be embracing Microsoft's new messaging. Not bad for a relatively new push.

Still, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what those NDP Group data points mean. After all, it's unclear if overall Office 365 and 2013 licensing (subscription AND perpetual) have given Microsoft's suite business a lift vs. this time in 2012. 

Not the Cloud Suite

Also, there are points of clarification here: Most VARs think of Office 365 as a cloud service featuring Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online. But in the retail consumer market, Office 365 starts as an on-premises software suite that has a fixed-lenth subscription license and includes familiar applications like Word and Excel. 

The VAR Guy has reached out to Microsoft for potential comment about the NDP Group sales estimates for Office 365 and Office 2013. This article will be updated if/when Microsoft offers any additional insights.