Today, Microsoft released the latest version of its productivity suite, Office 2013. While Volume License Customers have been able to enjoy the new release for a while now, today is its first day of general availability. One change to Office that will certainly add an element of confusion is the introduction of Office 365 Home Premium, a subscription-based approach to licensing Office and future updates for a fixed amount of time like one year.
The new version of Office has some improved features like default widescreen formats for PowerPoint Presentations and new adaptability for a touch interface on Windows 8 devices but it also has its annoyances and quirks like the animated cursor. There are also different versions and license restrictions depending on which Office product you purchase.
Read on to hopefully get a little clarity on what is available.
Starting October 19, people who purchase Office 2010 or Office for Mac 2011 will qualify to download, for free, one year of Office 365 Home Premium or the equivalent Office 2013 offering, when available. Small business customers in applicable markets will also be eligible for a three-month trial of Office 365 Small Business Premium.
There are plenty of products being thrown around and it hearkens back to the days of many different SKUs for the Windows operating system. While Microsoft seems to have been able to figure out that mess, there is now much more confusion for just Office. Your options include:
- Office Home and Student 2013 for $119.00 on 1 PC
- Office Home and Business 2013 for $199.00 on 1 PC
- Office Professional 2013 for $349.00 on 1 PC
- Office 365 Home Premium for $99 per year or $9.99 per month
- Office 365 Small Business Premium for $149 per year (Available March 1st)
With verification, students can get Microsoft Office 365 University as a 4-year subscription for $79.99.
The first three in the list are device-based licenses while Office 365 Home Premium is household-based, and Office 365 Small Business Premium is user-based. Home & Student includes the basic applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. If you want Outlook, Publisher, Access, or other components, you will need to purchase a more expensive package or standalone purchases when it comes to Publisher and Access. See the table at the bottom of this article for a full comparison.
At first glance, the price point certainly seems to favor the average user subscribing to Office 365 Home Premium at $99/year. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, and Office on Demand.
With a Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium subscription, you can install Office on up to five PCs, Macs, or mobile devices (when those apps become available). You can also setup Office to utilize different Microsoft Live accounts for synchronizing applications, settings, and documents.
Enterprise locations will likely be interested in Office Professional Plus 2013 and the different versions available to volume license customers with Office Standard 2013 and Office Professional Plus 2013.
When purchasing a product license for the new Office, people may be offered a PC Key Card or Product Key Card. This is a 25-character product key that you tie to your account at Office.com/verify, licensing you to use Microsoft Office. If your computer came with Office pre-installed, it can be activated with the license key. If your device does not have Office installed yet, you can return to www.office.com/myaccount to sign in, download, and install Office.
Some product key cards may contain a PIN code instead of a product key. These you can follow the instructions to go to Office.com and submit the PIN in exchange for the license key.
In other Office update news, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 updated to version 14.3 (or Service Pack 3) today. It provided some application fixes but also tied Office for Mac to the subscription basis of Office 365. For more details, read KB2793758.
So, which version of Office should you get? If you are a student or affiliated with a college (excluding alumni), the Microsoft Office 365 University sounds like the best bet. Otherwise, the price incentive certainly leans toward Office 365 Home Premium edition if you will need anything beyond the core applications. Of course, renewing at $99/year will lead Office to cost you $400 in 4 years. Do you need to upgrade every four years or would you be better off buying Office 2013 and waiting until a significant update convinced you that it was worth the update? Office 365 also moves around devices and users rather easily while Office 2013 is a license for a device for the life of that device. If your laptop died, would you have buy another license of Microsoft Office to get it installed on a new computer?
For a good comparison of the different versions, check out the table below.