Want Office? Subscribe to Office 365

An Office 365 subscription is a better deal than buying the Microsoft Office suite itself. Period.

Many people are simply opposed on principle to paying a recurring annual fee for Microsoft Office (or any software, really), but Microsoft provides a variety of exclusive perks with Office 365, and subscription model or not the math works out in favor of Office 365 almost every time.

I compared the costs and benefits of Office 365 vs. buying Microsoft Office in a recent story for Windows Secrets:

The subscription-based Microsoft service Office 365 still has its detractors, suspicious of its value and confused about its cost.

But here are good reasons to move to Office 365, and they go well beyond the core productivity apps.

I’ll say up front that I’ve been a proponent of Office 365 since its inception. I consider the argument against subscription-based software to be based largely on misconceptions and flawed math, as I’ll explain below.

That Microsoft is pushing Office users to its subscription model should not be surprising. One of the biggest dilemmas for the company has always been getting Office users to pay for new versions. It’s been especially difficult with Office 2013, which has a new look but relatively few new features. A question in the minds of most Office users continues to be, “Why upgrade when I’m using only a small fraction of the suite’s capabilities?” The short answer is what you get with an Office 365 subscription — and no big outlay of cash every few years. Most of us are now more comfortable with subscription-based services, thanks to ISPs, Netflix, HBO, and so on.

That said, Office 365 is one subscription-based product/service whose value continues to rise. Here’s why.

Doing the math: Standalone Office vs. Office 365
For years, Office users have complained about the high cost of acquiring MS Office. Oddly, though, no lower-cost alternative suite has made a significant dent in Office’s massive market share. Sure, you can still buy WordPerfect (info) or use free suites such as LibreOffice (download site) and Google Docs (site), but Office is still the de facto standard — both on PCs and Macs.

For those with modest needs, Office can be had for free. Microsoft offers Office Online, but you need to accept the suite’s limitations. For example, you can open only those documents stored in OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud-storage service. You also can’t fully edit complex Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.

You can read the full story on Windows Secrets, but Windows Secrets is a subscription newsletter so you’ll have to pay / subscribe to access it: Why Office 365 is a better deal than Office 2013.

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