Microsoft is trying to drag everyone into their cloud with Office 365.
Microsoft’s latest Office suite offering, Office 365, comes pre-installed on most PCs you buy retail from now on. The question is, do you want to rent cloud-based software from Microsoft? Or do you want to buy a perpetual license for the Office suite software for your PC.
The differences between Office 365 Home Premium and Office 2013 Full versions are minute, but the licensing is not. As of March of this year (2013), Microsoft changed the End User License Agreement (EULA) on the perpetual license of the Office 2013 Full Packaged Product Retail (FPP). Now the Office license is not tied to the machine it is first licensed and loaded on. Of course, this is the most expensive version of Office 2013 at over $400. But compare to the Office Home and Student version which excludes Outlook (unbelievably), Access, and Publisher. In my opinion, Outlook is without a doubt the best email client out there, so I recommend not buying Office 2013 Home and Student.
The next step up is Office Home and Business, which does include Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. This can be obtained for around $150.00 or less, and it comes in a download form. This should be all any home user would need. If you are an Access database developer that works from home, you probably aren’t going to be reading this article. This comes with the caveat that it is locked to the machine you initially install it to. If your hard drive fails and you have to re-install Windows, you are going to run into problems re-installing. Of course, you should always have a full backup including a Windows Image, which SHOULD preclude this problem.
Office 365 Home Premium comes with the latest versions of the Office software bundled. However, is that once you commit to using Office 365, you must continue paying the subscription fee or lose access to the software. At this time, it runs $10 a month, or $100 a year. That being said, it allows for installation on 5 machines with the same logon. It also includes 20gb of drive space on Skydrive. Since most people don’t have 5 machines they logon to, it doesn’t appear to be cost-effective to rent.
Many home users are still on Office 2003 and are perfectly happy with that. Now, if you have several devices that can run Office, and trust your data with someone else, maybe Office 365 Home Premium is for you. Microsoft has also promised you get any upgrades that come out for no charge. But then they said the same thing about Vista Ultimate and it really never happened. BTW, Office 365 runs only on Windows 7 and up. Vista or XP is a no-go.
In summation, you have a decision to make when you set up your shiny new computer. Do I want to rent Office 365 Home Premium and be locked into renting software from Microsoft? Or will a download of Office 2013 Home and Business using a traditional perpetual license work for me?