The differences between Microsoft’s cloud offering with Office 365 and boxed product with traditional Office licenses. Office 2013 is the successor to Office 2010. But Microsoft has confused the discussion just a bit by mixing in chatter about Office 365. Office 365 supports SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Lync Online and other cloud services. Microsoft also has an option that includes desktop productivity capabilities. Here’s a sampling of Microsoft’s Office suite pricing, subscription services and product lineup:
Office 365 Home Premium: This $99.99 per year subscription offering covers an entire household. It’s not tied to a single person, or account, and each person that uses the service and applications can sign in to their own Microsoft account with its custom online document store, settings sync, and more. You can use Office on up to 5 PCs (or Macs), and switch which devices are activated on the fly. PC-based subscribers get Office 2013 Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher, while Mac users get Office:Mac (whatever the current version is).
Office 365 Home Premium subscriptions come with a number of benefits. The software installs are delivered via Click-to-Run, which takes just a few minutes. But more important, the software is always kept up-to-date, not just with bug and security fixes, but also with the latest new features and services: Microsoft says that it will add new capabilities to Office 2013 “multiple times per year,” as it would with any service.
Additional benefits include 20 GB of additional SkyDrive-based storage (for a total of 27 GB), which I assume applies only to the account that signs up for the subscription, and not for all accounts that access the software installs from that subscription. (That is, the 20 GB of additional storage is for one account, not for up to five accounts.) You also get 60 minutes of Skype-based world calling per month. And you can access the Office on Demand service to temporarily stream any of the supported Office applications temporarily to any PC in the world (assuming it’s online).
Office 365 Small Business: This $149.99 per year subscription offering is licensed per user, but also covers up to 5 PCs and/or Macs. Aimed at small businesses with 1 to 10 employees, Office 365 Small Business utilizes Office 365 backend services—Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync Online—rather than the SkyDrive-based services used by the Home Premium subscription. So while you basically get all the benefits of the Home Premium subscription, there are additional benefits and features as well.
On the client front, Small Business subscribers gain access to the same Office 2013 applications as Home Premium—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher—but also get Lync and InfoPath, or, of course, Office:Mac.
In the cloud, you get a 25 GB Exchange Online mailbox with shared calendaring, contacts, scheduling, and task list, and 10 GB of SharePoint Online-based cloud storage for the organization with an addition 500 MB per user account. You can host online meetings with audio, video, screen sharing, and HD video conferencing using Lync Online, and can set up, build, and maintain a public-facing web site with custom domain for no additional fee.
Traditional Office 2013 Single User Licenses: Prices start at $139.99 for Office Home and Student 2013 (which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote). Office Home and Business 2013 ($219.99) includes all the applications in Home and Student plus Outlook. Office Professional 2013 ($399.99) includes the applications in Home and Business plus Access and Publisher. With the boxed product you have a onetime fee which allows you to use the product on that one machine. You can uninstall/reinstall as you change out your equipment.
The comparison: If you were to purchase Office Home and Student for five machines it would cost you $699.95 compared to $99.99 for a one year subscription. It would take seven years for the payback on the boxed product and by then you would probably want to have already upgrade to the newest version well before that time is up. With the subscription model you will always be up to date. If you don’t need the extra home licenses and you don’t use Outlook than you may be better off with the boxed version. But in a multi-license scenario you may want to consider the subscription.
Compared with Small Business Premium and compared with Office Professional, you are getting a whole host of extras with the subscription model per user that you are not getting with the boxed product. While the cost between the Home and Small Business version of the boxed product would be much closer, you are missing a few of the products that are included in the subscription model. There is a $70 difference in cost for the first year but halfway through the second you are saving money with the boxed version. But you don’t get the updates and you don’t get the full product or cloud services. So in my mind you are much better off in the long run with the subscription service.
Let me know your thoughts.