Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are the standard productivity applications for most businesses and classrooms. But how to choose between the traditional Office suite and the Microsoft 365 subscription service? What’s the difference between Office and Microsoft 365, and which one is cheaper?
What is the difference?
Everyone knows the old Microsoft Office ritual. You buy a disc full of Word, PowerPoint, and other Microsoft-branded software, paste it into your computer, and get down to business. A few years go by and your work or class requires a newer version of the Office suite, so get out there and blast your savings to another drive. Rinse and repeat.
But the traditional Office package is much less common than it was in the past. Today, many people access Excel, Word and other software through a Microsoft 365 subscription or the free, browser-based Office Online Suite (which is a stripped-down version of Office).
Unlike an Office package, which requires a one-time payment of $ 150 and only works on one computer, Microsoft 365 costs $ 7 a month, works on all your computers and mobile devices, and includes collaborative features and benefits that aren’t provided. with a standard Office package. Microsoft launched its 365 service in 2011 to help modernize the Office suite, which hadn’t undergone a major overhaul in nearly a decade. The subscription model allows Microsoft to offer constant updates and support for its productivity software, along with the cloud storage and in-depth collaboration features made famous by Google’s browser-based productivity tools (Google Docs, Drive, Sheets, etc.).
Microsoft still sells its traditional Office suite for people who don’t want to pay a monthly fee or use the free and reduced Office Online tools. But is the Office package really that affordable? And while you can save some money by avoiding Microsoft 365, is it worth missing out on the exclusive features of subscription services?
Microsoft Office: pros and cons
Microsoft Office 2019 and the upcoming Office 2021 suite start at $ 150 and come with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The expanded Office Home and Business package, which costs $ 250, includes the Outlook email and calendar tool in addition to the standard Office software. Both versions of the Office suite run on one computer and include a few years of bug and security support from Microsoft (7 years for Office 2019, 5 years for Office 2021).
While Office’s lack of collaborative and cloud features may seem a bit limiting, the software package is still useful for individuals and businesses who want a stable and immutable collection of productivity tools. Office is also a great option for always offline computers, and for some, it may be cheaper than a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Buy it once, own it forever
Microsoft Office has an obvious advantage: You buy the software once and own it forever. Sure, your version of Office will age and lose flashy new features, but you have the freedom to replace it when you want. Plus, Microsoft does a great job with file compatibility, so if someone sends you a Word document written in the latest Office or Microsoft 365 software, it will still open on your computer.
For hobbyists, educators, and small businesses, losing $ 150 on the Office suite (which will work as long as you have a compatible machine) may be cheaper than a Microsoft 365 subscription. That said, you need to use the software for a few years before Actually “save” money.
Microsoft Office versus Office Online
Wait a minute, why should you pay $ 150 for Microsoft Office when the browser-based Office Online suite is free? Office Online is great for the average Joe who just needs to create an occasional spreadsheet or word document, but it only works when connected to the internet, which isn’t great for people or businesses who work offline or have a connection. Slow Internet Connection: Office Online Can Get Pretty Slow!
The Office Online suite also lacks some important features, such as the table of contents or bibliography in Word, advanced formula or graphic tools in Excel, and advanced formatting in PowerPoint. That said, Office Online supports real-time editing with another person, while the desktop version of Office only allows one person to edit one paragraph at a time (for this reason, some people integrate their Microsoft Office suite offline with the free Office Online suite).
Again, if you just need to put a few documents together, Office Online will do the job for free. But if you want to work offline or use advanced features, you have to pay for the Office suite. Or, you know, sign up for Microsoft 365.
Microsoft 365: pros and cons
Microsoft 365 Personal, which supports one user on up to five devices at a time, costs $ 7 per month or $ 70 per year when paid upfront. It comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage.
If you want to share these apps with your entire family, you can sign up for the Microsoft 365 Family service for $ 10 per month or $ 100 per year paid upfront. The Microsoft 365 family covers up to six users, each with 1 TB of OneDrive storage and access to 365 apps on five devices at a time. The family plan also unlocks the Microsoft Family Safety app for monitoring and managing your children.
While the monthly fee may be less than ideal for some, the Microsoft 365 service works on any device and comes with an endless stream of updates and bug support. It is the best service for people who always want the latest features or need to collaborate with others. Plus, it comes with some perks that are worth the $ 7 to $ 10 monthly fee.
For those who just want to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint but don’t mind collaborative features or cloud storage, the choice between Office and Microsoft 365 is primarily a matter of price. Of course, Office costs more upfront, but 365 comes with a monthly fee, so deciding which one is more affordable really depends on how you plan to use the software or how often you plan to replace it.
Let’s start with some simple math. The Microsoft 365 individual plan costs $ 7 per month. So, if you were to buy the standard $ 150 Office suite, you’d have to use it for 21 1/2 months to make it cheaper than Microsoft 365. People who buy the $ 250 Office Home and Business package to access Outlook must use the software for about 35 and a half months before starting to “save” money. (If you’re a business that buys Microsoft software for multiple computers, you’ll need to stick with Office even longer before you start “saving” money, as 365 Business starts at just $ 5 per person per month.)
So unless you’re using Office for over two years before upgrading to the latest version (or ditching the software), you’re not saving money. And until you hit that three-year milestone, your savings are marginal at best. Microsoft has clearly planned its pricing strategy here: The company releases a new version of Office every two to three years, so at the end of the day, people who always buy the latest version of Office pay about as much as Microsoft 365 subscribers. .
Knowing that it takes two to three years to save with Office, it could be argued that the feature-rich Microsoft 365 is actually better value. Microsoft 365 just includes more things, like Outlook access, 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage, the latest updates and bug fixes, real-time collaboration features, and of course the ability to work on any device at any time. But again, this really comes down to your priorities and the time you’re willing to spend with a traditional Office suite.