Microsoft Office has become more ubiquitous since it was first released for Mac in 1989 (followed by Windows in 1990).  And as it’s popularity has  increased, so has it’s complexity. Right now, there are 2 ways to get Office on your computer: monthly subscription and perpetual (one time fee) licensing.  It can be pretty confusing, and both ways offer pros and cons.

Monthly subscription
This is Office 365, and consists of dozens of various pieces of software beyond Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Outlook.  They have a variety of licenses and pricing structures for home/student users, business users, educational users, etc. You can pick and choose what you want, including cloud storage (OneDrive or Sharepoint), email (Hosted Exchange), instant messaging (Teams), and tons more.  Microsoft makes installation a breeze, and migrating your software to a new PC couldn’t be simpler. Just log into and click on “Install Office”!  And when new versions of Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Outlook are released, your computer automatically upgrades.  The downside to Office 365 is that, well, you’ll be paying forever.

Perpetual licensing
This is the stand alone product, where you pay for a specific version (currently Office 2019), and you own it forever. Sounds great, right? The main positive is cost.  The downsides are pretty big, however. If you install it more than a few times (maybe 10-15 times), Microsoft will invalidate the license and you’ll have to buy a new copy. And when new versions are released, you’re stuck with whatever version you bought. Furthermore, you’re limited to Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Outlook software.  Want OneDrive or BI or email? Too bad, you’ll still have to start an Office 365 account.

The cost comparison is pretty straight forward.  Microsoft 365 Apps for Business is $8.25 per month and you’re allowed to install it for a single user with up to 5 devices.  Microsoft Office 2019 Home & Business is a one time $250 fee, and you can install it for a single user with up to 2 devices. So Apps for Business exceeds the 2019 cost after 2.5 years.  Microsoft tends to release new versions every 3 years (Office 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019), but the truth is that a standalone Office version is useful for at least 5-6 years before those users start missing out on stuff!

Of course there are cheaper versions of Office, but keep in mind that businesses are prohibited from using the Home/Student or personal licenses of Office in a commercial environment.  Doing so is a violation of the EULA and can result in unpleasant legal action in the (admittedly minor) chance that your business gets audited. 

The bottom line…there are tons of options to suit almost every person/organization/business entity. 

If you need any help deciding which path and tool sets would work best for you, please give us a call.

PS Don’t buy sketchy copies off Amazon, they’re either pirated copies or fakes!