What is this Office 365 software subscription from Microsoft and why would I want it (not to be confused with Microsoft's hosted email platform, also confusingly called Office 365)?
Traditionally when you bought Microsoft Office you paid up-front and it either came with your computer or as separate “boxed” software to be installed. However, Office 365 is a subscription based plan; for a few pounds each month you can use Word, Excel and the rest of Microsoft Office suite, install on your computer(s) or use it in the cloud.
The best way to look at the Office 365 subscription software is to make a comparison with the boxed version.
|Area||Subscription (Office 365 home or personal)||Boxed|
|Features||An active Office 365 subscription plan that includes the latest full desktop version of Office, meaning you always have the most up to date version of the office suite.
Installation devices include PCs, Macs, Android phones, Android tablets, iPad, and iPhone.
60 Skype world minutes per month.
The latest software at the time of purchase but not after.
Only available on either (PC) or (Macs).
No access to the iPad version.
|Cost||Annual subscription, no capital outlay. Committed to 12-month subscription. If you stop the subscription the software will revert to read-only version.||One off payment up-front – last as long as your machine.|
|Installation||Can make sense if installing on multiple devices (5 computers - pc or Mac) depending on subscription.||One device only unless otherwise stated. You now CANNOT have one desktop and one laptop.|
|Storage||1TB Cloud storage per user for up to 5 users.||Store files in the cloud with OneDrive.|
|Mobility||Enable employee to work from almost anywhere on any device||Limited to installation device.|
|Licensing / install||No need to worry about your license and install disks. Just log onto your Microsoft account and install from the web and track your installations / deregister old computers.||Need to keep a record of the boxed software license key.|
The cost of a typical Office 365 subscription is £7 per month (prices exclude VAT) or £84 per year. Compare this with the boxed version of Office which is around £140 and you can see after a little over a year and a half it is costing you more. Given the typical life of a PC is around 4 years and that the Office software rarely gets replaced, your Office 365 subscription will be costing you £336 compared to £140 - so around £200 more expensive.
Potentially so and here's why...
The days of boxed software are coming to an end, in a couple of years’ time you probably won’t be able to buy Office in a box so we’re starting the process of explaining the inevitable. It is valuable to understand the differences and be assured that the move to office 365 will mean flexibility in growth and reliability for the future.