The consumer versions of Office 365 and Office 2013 have been out in users hands now for almost 6 months. With the annual subscription fee of $100 per year, are users finding the cost worth it? In many ways, users are saying yes it is.
Like every other user of Microsoft Office over the years, the software experience has basically stayed the same. Now with the integration of cloud services and increased mobility, plus the new Microsoft Surface Tablets, a new business model has begun. Microsoft wants you to subscribe to their Office product.
Office 365 gives you subscription access to the software, and you can use it from a number of devices (up to five devices for the one-year, $100 consumer subscription; or two devices for the four-year, $80 student edition). It adds a couple of cloud-based and instant-messaging features. It still is recognizable as the Office 2013 you know and love. If the subscription costs seem prohibitive, you can still purchase the software for $140 and up and own one license.
How does it work for the average consumer?
Testing Office 2013 and the new Office 365 on a Windows 8 tablet and a Windows 8 PC it’s clear to see a totally redone product. The integration of mobility combined with multi device use is apparent. This revamping of the software for next generation mobility services has been thought out well.
Pricing and Packages
- Office 365 Home Premium: $99 per year — five devices — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access
- Office 365 University: $80 for 4 years — two devices — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access
- Office 2013 Home & Student: $140 — one device — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote
- Office 2013 Home & Business: $220 — one device — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook
- Office 2013 Pro: — $400 — one device — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access
Picking which of these packages will suit your needs isn’t easy. You have to determine if having a single use license is good for you today or what if you go multi device in the future? Which would you choose?
Does a subscription to Office 365 make sense?
Let’s look at the benefits first:
- Multiple Devices – It will work on up to 5 of your devices. Whether you have a Windows 7 or 8 it will work great. It will even work on your Mac running OS 10.5.8 or later. With this you can work on your Powerpoint or OneNote from any of your 5 devices. At home or work you will always be able to access your work. Having multiple paid copies of your software doesn’t have to happen anymore. Buying multiple programs is no longer necessary.
- Office on Demand – This is a great feature that allows you to use your Office 365 account from a device that is not part of your 5 device install. If you ever need to use your Office 365 on a friend’s computer all you need to do is log into your Microsoft account on Office.com, Microsoft streams a copy of Office from the cloud down to that computer and you can save your work to the cloud. When you are finished with your Office on Demand session, the copy disappears and removes all traces you were there.
- Cloud Connection – Here is what makes Office 365 so good. Every document you save goes to your local hard drive plus it is also stored on SkyDrive. This is how you can access your documents when away from your computer or using another device. Office 365 subscribers also get 60 free Skype minutes per month and a boost in SkyDrive storage from 7GB to 20GB.
- No Updates to Install – With the cloud connection you will always have the latest update installed. With a local copy of Office 2013 you need to worry about installing your own updates and security patches.
Let’s look at the Reasons to pass on it.
- Lots of good reasons to use Office 365. If you have multiple devices or multiple users it seems to make sense. What if you have just one computer? If you have just one computer you may already have an older copy of Office. I use Office 2007 everyday and I have now problem with it. It does everything I need and see no reason to upgrade to Office 2013.
- If you don’t have a copy, should you purchase one or are there alternatives. I have used Google docs for some word processing and spreadsheet work and it’s more than adequate. Even using the free OpenOffice, a weak Office clone, is more than adequate for the average user.
- If you need to work with Office documents these programs can open them and allow you to edit them. For the average user it really doesn’t pay to be a subscriber or even buy a copy of the single user Office 2013.
Office 365 subscription is a good deal if you have 5 devices that you need to use Office on. It also is good if you share the subscription with five users who use Office as part of their work life. You will save money overall by using Office to its capacity. It is a bargain if you use it this way.
But single users may find it hard to justify $100 a year. But if you divide it over 12 months it comes to $8.25 month. That’s just a quarter more than what we pay for Netflix. So is it really so expensive for 5 copies of Microsoft Office?
Also it may also be possible to track down some older copies of Office 2010 or 2007 that haven’t been installed yet at a discounted prices.