Last week, we covered the industry-leading productivity suite, Microsoft Office. As well as their one-off purchase option which has been in place for over two decades, Microsoft offer a subscription-based version of their Office suite for home, business and enterprise users, which comes with a few additional features – Office 365.
The Personal and Home versions come with all of the traditional Microsoft apps: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, plus OneNote, Access, Publisher and Outlook; they also offer 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 Skype minutes per user. You can choose to pay monthly or yearly, the latter option comes with a discount.
The Business version comes with the same suite of apps as the Personal and Home versions, but with centralised controls to enable one person to manage many users or accounts at the same time. There are additional features with their Business Premium version, such as your own Exchange mail server, Teams – a group communication tool, and access to SharePoint – a highly configurable collaboration and document management system which can be used as a centralised cloud storage for the entire organisation with granular permission controls. Businesses can also choose to pay monthly or yearly; as for Personal and Home users, paying yearly gives a discount.
Their Enterprise options include the same features as their Business plans, but with additional tools for security and compliance, analytics and enhanced legal features.
There are a whole host of reasons why an organisation may prefer a subscription-based service to a one-time payment. For one, each user on an Office 365 subscription can install their software on up to 5 devices at a time – useful if an organisation has employees who frequently work from home or on a laptop while travelling. The per-user charge also means that it’s easier for an organisation to scale their subscription up or down, depending on their requirements.
The cost of purchasing a large number of keys for individual machines may seem a little daunting to many new start-ups or very small businesses; subscription services can make these costs more manageable.
Office 365’s Business Premium and Enterprise solutions also come with software and features that aren’t available with one-off purchases of Office, specifically their online services such as OneDrive storage, Exchange, SharePoint and Teams.
One of the most important points about Office 365 as a subscription-based service is that you will always have access to the newest version of their desktop software, eliminating the problem of out-of-date office applications that may pose a security risk or cause compatibility issues.
Along with the option to install the desktop apps, all Office 365 subscriptions come with access to basic versions of the Office suite as browser-based web apps, and also with access to the mobile versions of their apps for phones and tablets running iOS or Android.