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Understanding Your Choices for These Latest Versions of Microsoft Office
Although new releases of Microsoft Office are not the
newsworthy events of past years, you may have heard that Microsoft Office 2013
was officially unveiled on January 29, 2013. The updated release of Office 365
happened at the end of February. These latest versions represent a big change in
how we can consume Microsoft Office primarily due to the move to the cloud (also
known as cloud computing).
The cloud is like file storage in the sky. But it is also a
way that programs can be delivered to you without necessarily installing them on
your computer. You can get to the cloud anytime you're online. In fact, you may
already be using browser-based (cloud) programs to get your work done every day.
Now Microsoft Office is more connected to the cloud than
ever before. And your choices for how you purchase and interact with Microsoft Office are more expanded and yes, more confusing than ever before. Your choices
- Microsoft Office 2013
- Microsoft Office 365
- Microsoft Office Web Apps
Let's look at a quick overview of these different options
or flavors of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Office 2013
This is the name of the latest version of the traditional
Microsoft Office software package that includes the individual desktop programs
you are so familiar with such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. As before,
multiple choices are available within this suite including Home & Student, Home
& Business, and Professional. Each of these includes a specific selection of the
suite programs. For example, the Home & Business version includes Microsoft
Outlook but not Microsoft Access or Publisher.
Although still a stand-alone suite of programs, Office 2013
is more cloud-based than previous versions. For instance, the default save
location is the user's online SkyDrive (Microsoft's cloud storage service).
How do you switch to Office 2013?
In business, your upgrade to Microsoft Office 2013 would be
similar to past updates. That is, your organization purchases licenses to use
Office 2013 and applies an upgrade plan for computer users.
For your own personal or small business use, you buy the
program outright with no subscription fees and either install from a disk or
download. Reduced upgrade pricing is no longer available unless purchased
through a special Office 2010 upgrade offering.
What is Microsoft Office 365?
Office 365 delivers the Office 2013
programs as part of a subscription service that includes online storage,
sharing, and syncing via Microsoft cloud services. Office 365 is available in
different home, business, government, and education editions.
When purchased as part of an Office 365
subscription, the Office 2013 programs and associated services are always
available in the latest version as well as upgrades to future versions of
Microsoft Office for the same subscription fee which starts at $10 to $15 a
month for home or small business versions.
One of the confusing parts about Office 365
is that, even though this is a cloud-based service, you do not have to be
perpetually online to access programs such as Excel and Word. These programs are
installed from the web, but they work just like traditional desktop software,
whether you are online or offline. And so, Microsoft Office 365 is not fully
cloud based. Being online and signed in allows you to access files in cloud
Office 365 Home Premium
The Office 365 Home Premium version allows up to 5 installs
per account or user which can be a huge plus for households.
Each user has access to their own files and their individual customization is
saved as well. The Office 365 management portal allows you to deactivate the
installed copy of Office from one or more devices so you can install it on a new
device (desktop computer, laptop, Windows-based tablet). Plus, updates
are automatic so you'll always have the latest version of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Office 365 for Business
Part of the confusion around Microsoft Office 365 is that not all versions actually deliver the full Microsoft Office
suite. Office 365 has been available for about three years to provide business,
government, and other organizations with multiple enterprise-level services.
Currently offered in six different plans targeted to small business, midsize
business, and enterprise level organizations, Office 365 may include online
hosting of Exchange Server (for Microsoft Outlook), SharePoint, web
conferencing, and include some level of the Microsoft Office Web Apps. Although
not as highly customizable, moving hosting of some services, such as Microsoft
Exchange hosted e-mail, from internal services and administration to online can
equal big cost savings to large organizations. Office 365 now includes three
plans which add desktop versions of Microsoft Office 2013 Professional Pro and
allow up to 5 PCs/Macs per user. Additional plans are available for education and
How do you switch to Office 365?
To learn more, click to www.Office365.com
to explore home and business options for Microsoft Office 365.
You do not need Office 365 to get Microsoft Office 2013. You can still purchase any Office 2013 edition with a perpetual
license that doesn’t require any ongoing subscription fees. This version can be
combined with a free Microsoft Account to allow online SkyDrive document storage
Microsoft Office Web Apps
The browser-based Microsoft Office Web Apps include
scaled-back versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote that enable viewing
and lightweight editing of Office documents while preserving the formatting of
the original documents. Available on your web browser, phone, or computer, the
Office Web Apps are focused on Microsoft Office files stored in the cloud and
How do you get access to the Office Web Apps?
The Microsoft Office Web Apps are available free through
the SkyDrive cloud service with some storage and file size limitations. For free
SkyDrive storage, head to www.skydrive.com
and log-in with any Microsoft e-mail account including outlook.com, msn.com,
hotmail.com, and live.com.
These Office Web Apps offer you the flexibility of
accessing and editing important files from multiple computers and tablets. These
apps don't require an installation or access to any version of Microsoft Office
but the features are very limited. If you do have a version of Office installed
on your computer, you can also open files on SkyDrive with the fully functional
programs on your desktop.
Because Microsoft Office 365 doesn't install on non-Windows
tablets such as an iPad or Android tablet, the browser-based Office Web Apps
also give you a way to work with files from a non-Windows based tablet. The
Office Web Apps may also available through private or public cloud channels
Whether or not you are ready to make the move to the latest
versions of Microsoft Office, expect to see a bigger push to the cloud and to
Are you switching to Microsoft Office 2013? Let's create a
custom training plan for your company or team to focus on the features and
changes most important to you!
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
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