Microsoft Office 2013

Unless you’ve been buried so deep in an e-learning project you haven’t come up for air, you’re probably aware that Microsoft released to consumers the new version of Office last week. I’ve heard a lot of questions about the different versions and purchase options, so I thought I’d try and clear up some of the confusion surrounding the new Office suite.

Most questions about the new Microsoft Office sound something like this, “Are Office 365 and Office 2013 the same thing? If not, what’s the difference?” The answer is that they are the same suite of Office applications – the difference is how you pay for them and how you can use them. Office 365 is Microsoft’s attempt to move to a subscription model for software as opposed to “pay once, install once, use as long as you want.” And they are trying to make it attractive for you to choose the subscription path.

Office 365 Home Premium (for non-commercial use) and its Business equivalent include the full suite of Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. You can install it on five PCs or Macs. Your five installations can include use on “select mobile devices,” but right now that only includes Windows Phone devices. Office 365 also includes “Office on Demand” which lets you stream full versions of your Office applications to any Internet connected PC (Win 7 or later.) The price? $99.99 per year (or $9.99 per month if you’re commitment phobic. Business price varies based on number of users.) After that year’s up, it’s time to pay again or no more Office for you! The subscription includes access to all upgrades as well as 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage and 60 Skype world minutes per month.

The Office 2013 label applies to different combinations of the Office applications that sell for a single price for perpetual (as long as you want it) installation on one PC. Combinations include:

  • Office Professional 2013: same full suite as Office 365 for $399.99.
  • Office Home & Business 2013: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, Outlook for $219.99.
  • Office Home & Student 2013: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note for $139.99.

If you’re using Microsoft Office in conjunction with other software applications be sure to check for any compatibility issues before you buy. For example, in the e-learning field Articulate Studio ’09 is not supported for use with Office 2013.

These are your purchase options if you upgrade to Office 2013. But should you? For most e-learning developers there are some nice-to-haves but no real must-haves. How would you benefit? If you’re like my wife and have moved completely to tablet computing, Office 2013 is optimized for touch. If you work as part of a far flung team, Office 2013 has improved tools for collaboration. If you’re a PowerPoint junkie, you could benefit from new color themes, motion path improvements, support for more video and audio formats, and more. Check out Office online if you’re looking for more details on features.

If you plan to make the move to Office 2013 then I think the central question becomes, “Do I rent or do I buy?” The answer depends on how you plan to use Office. If you want to use Office on multiple computers and always like to have the latest version, then the Office 365 subscription makes sense. If you install Office on one primary machine and don’t necessarily upgrade each time a new version comes out then a standard purchase might work best for you.

Are you buying the new Microsoft Office? If so, what’s your purchase choice and why?

Rod Jackson

3 Responses to “Microsoft Office 2013

  • As a small company the pricing for ‘renting’ may just work out as there are other benefits and some less IT hassle, …much though I have reservations about what they may do to pricing in the future. It does look like the way things are all going so it may just be a case of how long is it worth resisting. But I think that it looks like quite a big issue for Powerpoint plug ins ….”Articulate Studio ’09 is not supported for use with Office 2013″ and Articulate have said the new release of studio won’t be supported either of course. As an Articulate studio owner that means I won’t be upgrading. Yes Storyline is standalone and great but I wish they’d spent their development time on getting v2 to market instead of Studio. Does make you wonder what will happen in the future.

    • Thanks for sharing your insights Sarah. I agree that figuring out “the future” of software development and pricing is always a challenge! Rod

  • I wish I could keep Office 2007 and run Studio/Storyline and have 2013 too for other stuff!!!

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