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Microsoft Office 365 Subscription: Is It Worth Renewing?

I have been using Microsoft Office 365, the subscription version of Microsoft’s Office Suite for just about a year. Now I have to decide if I want to renew my subscription to the service.

Here’s what I get for my $99 per year: The Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, One Note, Power Point, Outlook, Publisher and Access. The subscription to Office 365 Home Premium means I can have those programs on up to 5 devices in my house. That includes PCs, Macs, Android Phones, iPhones and iPads. Microsoft says there is a version for Android tablets coming, but they don’t have a specific launch date.

A standard one-device download of Office costs around $140 and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Home & Business 2013, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook runs around $219.  Microsoft Office Professional includes all of the programs offered in Office 365 and sells for around $400. These downloads would be licensed for only one device in your household.

An advantage to the 365 subscription is that updates are continual. Instead of purchasing Office 2017 when it is released, the idea is that your apps will be continually updated with the latest features available. Also, should your computer die, you can simply go to your Office account and delete that licensed device and add another.  Or if you purchase an additional computer or a new iPad, you can add it to your Office account yourself in a matter of minutes and start downloading the programs you need.

 If you purchase the one-device download, it’s tied to the computer you installed it on. Microsoft says they will make exceptions in some cases such as a hard drive failure, but you would have to contact them before your product key would be authorized on a separate device.

A feature I particularly enjoy about Office 365, is that you can install the app on your phone and have access to your documents wherever you go, thanks to Microsoft’s OneDrive Cloud storage.  I can read, edit and even create documents right from my phone and they look very much the same wherever I pull them up.  I can also use Microsoft Office Apps online from any computer to pull up needed documents stored to my OneDrive. I’m old-school enough to always keep copies of my documents on the hard drive of my computer as well.

Cloud storage is a great feature of Office 365. It’s especially great for someone like me who writes a whole lot. In addition to being a tech writer, I’m also a hard news journalist, a food blogger and a novelist. Being able to access any of my documents at any time is a big plus for me. The current lack of an Android tablet app that I can use on my Kindle is source of frustration for me. But not a deal breaker. I can still look at my Office documents in my One Drive, but to edit them I have to use another app on my tablet.

I know many of you aren’t keen on cloud storage. You don’t have to use the OneDrive function if you don’t want to. But, if you have an iPad or a smartphone, I thing you’ll really love the convenience of accessing your documents wherever you happen to be.

I’m not going to get into a review of Office itself. That’s another long, separate article .Office 365 is Office with some fancy new features. I’ve been using Word since it came out and it is deeply ingrained in my psyche. If you are comfortable with recent additions of Office, you’ll probably enjoy using it. I am a fan of Microsoft’s Office Suite. I’ve tried some free Office Suites and while they are functional and work great for some people, I am just more comfortable with Office products.

 For me, the Office 365 is worth renewing. For others, it might not seem as great a value. But I have no complaints about how the products function or any issues with OneDrive. 

Several readers angry over the demise of XP and what they considered my defense of Microsoft, have accused me of being on Microsoft’s payroll. But, as the $99 charge on my debit card shows, they are actually on my payroll. And this time, I’ve judged them a good enough worker to renew that contract for another year.

~ Cynthia