Office 365 marks Microsoft’s change in strategy of selling and distributing its Office line of products. With a firm grip on both the consumer and enterprise market, Microsoft has the clout and power to nudge users into a subscription based system. It has done so very effectively by doing what works in the market – getting the latest version of Office is a lot cheaper if you subscribe rather than buy individual licenses. I personally upgraded to Office 365 University instead of Office 365 Home Premium because of the incredible cost savings that former had over the later.
I will break the costs down and compare it to the old ways of purchasing office. You can also take a visual walk through of the purchase process and see how University subscriptions are verified. Common questions such as how SkyDrive and Skype goodies are activated, installing the final version over Preview and if you can use other Microsoft Accounts are answered at the end.
I will be going through both Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University because they are basically the same product with one difference – the latter is twice as cheap as the first. All prices shown here are in US dollars. Microsoft goes with a straight forward 1.2 conversion rate to Singapore dollars. If you want the SGD version of the prices stated here – multiply by 1.2.
Both versions come with the following:
- Always updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access.
- Additional 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage.
- 60 minutes of Skype landline calls per month.
But the prices between Home Premium and University differ very widely. Here’s the breakdown:
|Price||Price Per Year||No. of PCs/Macs||Price Per PC/Mac Per Year|
|Office 365 Home Premium||$99 per year||$99||5||$19.80|
|Office 365 University||$79 per 4 years||$19.75||2||$9.88|
In short, getting Office 365 University literally halves the cost. This will come in useful if you have a friend or relative that is in a Microsoft recognized college or university that will buy Office 365 University on your behalf. Massive cost savings that makes this purchase a no brainer.
What about the old way of buying Office? You still can. You buy a single copy of Office 2013, instead of Office 365. Note that only the 365 version allows you to always get the latest version of Office even when Office 2015 or 2016 gets released. The 2013 version means you pay it once and will not get newer versions in the years to come.
For the sake of comparison, the only standalone package that matches Office 365’s feature set is Office Professional 2013. You get the same applications but do not enjoy the additional 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage nor do you get Skype benefits. How much will that cost? $509.99 for a single PC/Mac.
Of course, you do not have to pay per year (or per four years). However, in order for this to be comparable to Office 365, you need to use Office 2013 for 25 years to match the same price as you get on 365 Home Premium and 50 years to match 365 University. On top of that, you will be using a 2013 version of the product while 365 users automatically get new versions of all Office apps for free.
It is almost impossible for Office Professional 2013 to be a better deal than Office 365. Microsoft is using attractive prices to move everyone to a subscription model. Even if you only have 1 PC, the Office 365 Home Premium still makes more sense because there will definitely be a new version of Office before the 5 year mark that 2013 needs to break even. Of course, this does not apply with single Office apps (such as buying Word individually) but that is not a fair comparison (and hardly a popular way to get Office). You should know your needs before selecting the best package. The comparison above is valid for maximum feature sets that Office 365 and 2013 provide.
It is almost impossible for Office Professional 2013 to be a better deal than Office 365.
You can buy Office 365 online or from a traditional store. The boxed copy doesn’t even contain a disc, it simply sends you to the online store. In short, you will want to visit Microsoft Office’s website to purchase Office 365 Home Premium. If you want to purchase Office 365 University, you can click on the university link or go directly here. Buying Office 365 Home Premium is easy. You log in to your Microsoft account and add a payment method if you don’t have one yet.
There is a mistake in the site as you can see in this screenshot. It says ‘For one PC’ in my 365 University purchase. Fret not, it is for 2 PCs (University) and 5 PCs (Home Premium) no matter what they state. I expect this typo to be fixed soon.
The University version follows the same process with just one addition. If your Microsoft account has not been verified to belong to a recognized school, you will be prompted to complete the verification process.
There are 3 ways to verify that you belong to a recognized academic institution:
- Verification Code: Your school will issue you a unique code that you can use.
- ISIC Card: A card based system that will usually require you to activate this in school where a compatible card reader is present.
- Email Address: If you do not have either of the above, you can verify by entering your school’s name and use your school email. They will send you an verification link to your school account. Clicking the link in that mail verifies your Microsoft account. This was how I activated mine via my school (National University of Singapore) account. I believe most Singapore based schools will utilize this method.
After verification, Office 365’s purchase is similar whichever the version. You complete the order and get sent to the installation page.
The ‘My Account’ page is where you manage all the installations of Office 365 for 5 PCs/Macs in the Home Premium version or 2 PCs/Macs in the University version.
You can start installations from this page and also deactivate installed copies of Office so you can install it on another PC/Mac.
- Go to the PC or Mac where you wish to install Office.
- Log in to the Microsoft account in which you purchased Office 365 from.
- You can then select to install Office for Windows or Office for Mac.
- Hit install and and a small 545kb installation file will be downloaded. That PC or Mac is now marked as your first install.
- Simply repeat the steps above for any PC/Mac that you wish to install your second or second to fifth copies of Office 365.
- To deactivate return to this page and look for the PC’s/Mac’s name that you wish to deactivate Office from. Just hit the ‘Deactivate’ button.
The installation process is pretty quick and there is nearly nothing for you to do.
The installation process is pretty quick and there is nearly nothing for you to do except click next and watch a introduction on the cloud offerings that the latest version of Office provides. I’ve tested this over a 15mbps and a 150mbps connection. Installations completed within 5-10 minutes or so. Slower connections may take a longer time but I reckon nothing more than half an hour on broadband speeds.
When the installation is done, you are ready to go. There’s no need to restart your computer or anything. The process is seamless.
Frequently Asked Questions
I installed Office 365 Home Premium / University on five / two computers. Can each Office 365 installation be used by other Microsoft accounts other than the one used for installation?
Yes. The only thing tied to the Microsoft account used for purchase is that each installation checks off one of your available installs. That is all. Once installed on the PC/Mac, you are free to use any Microsoft account to utilize Office 365. This means Dad can buy Office 365 Home Premium, install a copy on Son’s PC and Son can use his own Microsoft Account to utilize that copy of Office. In fact, you can switch accounts easily at any time as seen in the screenshot below. Just click on your name at the upper right hand corner and select switch account.
How do I activate the additional 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage and my 60 mins/month of free Skype time?
The SkyDrive storage of the Microsoft account that purchased Office 365 will have the additional 20GB credited immediately on purchase. There’s nothing you need to do. You can go to SkyDrive’s site and check the available space at the bottom left hand corner.
Skype is a little different. If you haven’t, I suggest you merge your Skype account with your Microsoft account before proceeding. This will keep management of accounts a lot easier. Skype has been bought over by Microsoft. As such, there’s little reason to keep Skype and Microsoft accounts separate.
To activate your free 60 mins per month, head to your Office Account page. Click on ‘Activate Your Skype World Minutes’ as shown below.
This will lead you to a page prompting you to log into your Skype account. If you already have merged your Skype account with your Microsoft Account, hit the Sign in with Microsoft Account option. Else, log in to your standalone Skype account. Doing so will automatically activate the bundled free calling time.
I used the Preview version of Office 365. Do I have to uninstall the Preview before installing Office 365?
Yes. Microsoft advises you to remove the Preview version of Office 365 before installing the final version. It is also recommended you restart your PC/Mac after uninstalling the Preview to ensure files are properly removed.
Office 365 signals is a massive strategic change for Microsoft that has been in the making for years. Users are very heavily encouraged to use SkyDrive as their primary storage. Also, the ridiculously cheaper price that Office 365 retails for means it makes no sense to stick with old standalone copies.
With an easy purchase process and a quick and smooth installation, Microsoft has executed this move perfectly with Office 365.
With an easy purchase process and a quick and smooth installation, Microsoft has executed this move perfectly with Office 365. University students will also be very pleased that they can purchase the entire package for a really low price.
It is a deal too good to turn down.
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