What is Office 365?
I hope that explains it, if not keep reading!
To put it simply, Office 365 is Microsoft’s latest iteration of it’s Office suite following closely on the heels of Office 2013. The biggest point of difference with 365 is that it is a online based version of Office and it is also subscription based product only available by download and not supplied on DVD.
In this post I will attempt to supply you with enough information to make the decision whether 365 is for you and which version best suits your needs.
Lets get this main point out of the way first, 365 is an cloud based version of Office and you require a fast and reliable Internet connection to make full use of it. This is nothing new, you really need a fast and reliable Internet connection to use a computer for just about anything these days, so if your Internet connection is not fast and reliable then probably Office 2013 is not for you.
On top of that, Office 365 “encourages” you to use online, cloud based storage to get the best out of it. In this case they are of course referring to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage (previously called SkyDrive).
Lastly, you will need Windows 7 or 8 on PCs and OSX10.6 (or later) on Macs to run Office 365, so if you have any old computers hanging around with Windows XP or OSX 10.5 (or earlier) you won’t be able to run it. In addition, 365 files are compatible with Office 2010 and 2013 and also work with Office 2007 but with some loss of functionality.
OK, so what do you get?
Well, as usual with Microsoft, you get what you pay for and Office 365 comes in a variety of flavours. Most of you will be using the personal/home or the small business versions (there are also Enterprise versions for companies with more than 300 employees). The best way to explain the versions is to send you to the Wikipedia page here where there is a good matrix explaining the different versions. I will assume that you require at the very least Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook applications in which case you will need Office Online, Small Business, Home (for families), Personal (for you) or Small Business Premium. The first two do not include desktop versions of the applications so you won’t be able to use them “offline”, or when disconnected from the Internet. So for now let’s assume you want the ones with Desktop applications.
So do you need it? If you are using Office 2010 or 2013 you can already work in the cloud and you can ustilise OneDrive to share files. However, what these versions don’t offer is the ability to work on your files on multiple devices, such as tablets, that don’t have office.
Office 365 Home & Office 365 Personal
Cost: Home $12 pm ($119 pa), Personal $9 pm ($89 to pa).
Both come with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, OneNote and Access.
Both options ensure you have the latest versions of the applications because subscriptions include automatic updates and upgrades for all applications. No more having to buy the new version of Office and installing it on all your devices!
Home can be installed on 5 PCs or Macs and 5 tablets (effectively 5 users).
Personal can be installed on 1 PC or Mac and 1 tablet.
Home comes with 1TB of online (OneDrive) storage for each of the 5 users.
Personal comes with 1TB only.
So why would you go for Personal instead of Home?
If you want/need office on more than 1 PC or Mac then obviously go for Home, but if you will only ever need it on one PC or Mac then save $3 pm and go for Personal.
Office 365 Small Business Premium
Office 365 Small Business Premium costs $13.50 per user/per month, for up to 25 users
It comes with the same applications as Home and Personal plus Microsoft Link (whatever that is)!
It also comes with business class email, online conferencing, a public website, file storage & sharing and Office Online.
This product has many more cool features to simplify ownership and management of the product and also to facilitate collaboration and sharing of data online and on the business network. I haven’t fully explored this product yet but it is looking pretty good.
So which version is for you?
Unless you are running a business with many users, i.e. more than 5, then Home or Personal is probably the way to go. If you are only using one device but there is even the slightest possibility you may need to add a second device in the near future then why not pay the little extra and go for Home. If you only use one device and are never likely to get another then go for Personal.
And lastly, Small Business Premium if you have more than 5 employees or if you need/want the added features of this product.
Office 2013 is still available as a one-time purchase if you are not comfortable with a subscription service. Office 2013 is still available as Home & Student ($169), Home & Business ($299) and Professional ($599). All versions are for 1 PC only!
The final word:
Office 365 University is available for eligible students.
It comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access and OneNote and 1TB of cloud storage (that is OneDrive).
It can be installed on 2 devices.
It costs $99 for 4 years.
As usual, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.