What’s the first app or apps you install after you’ve set up your new PC or laptop? The answer, ladies and gentlemen, is without a doubt, Microsoft Office. Since we were small, we were taught the basics of computing by asking us to write documents in MS Word or spreadsheets in MS Excel. Today, the apps inside Microsoft Office are essential tools for anyone to get work done.
Of course, there are many alternatives out there. In fact, I’ve personally tried out quite a few of them. Yet, I’ve always come back to Microsoft Office because it’s always felt like home. And so, I decided to try out its latest incarnation: Office 365. At first glance, Office 365 doesn’t look too different from the usual MS Office
But as you dig deeper, the differences become clear. Office 365 takes every productivity software Microsoft has built and bundles it all into one big package. This package includes the basics like MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint, along with more specialized tools like MS Publisher, MS Access and Outlook. With the different versions of MS Office, the only common thing between them is that they provide the basics.
However, the biggest difference between Office 365 and MS Office is how they are priced. Office 365 is sold on a subscription basis. Whereas MS Office is a onetime purchase. Additionally, Office 365 can be installed on your tablet and your phone to allow you to work on the go. This becomes easier with Microsoft also throwing in 1 TB of OneDrive storage with Office 365.
Seeing this I got curious and decided to take Office 365 for a spin
For those who are willing to take the plunge (like me), Microsoft offers Office 365 free for a trial period of one month. All you need is a valid Microsoft account. You can create one if you don’t have one as well. Once that is done, you’ll be asked to give your credit card details. There’s nothing to be scared about. As we said, the first month of usage is free. Once I entered my credit card details, I was directed to another page. This page was my Office 365 home. Here I can manage every aspect of my Office 365 subscription.
The reason that Microsoft asks for credit card and shipping details is so that you can seamlessly pay for the subscription once the trial period ends. This practice is nothing new. Several large companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Canva also adopt this policy with trial periods. The main benefit here is that you can always cancel your subscription during the trial period if you are not interested or just want to try it out. However, if you continue using the product beyond the trial period it’s assumed that you like the product and are willing to pay for it.
On the top left corner, you’ll notice a big orange button that says install. As the name suggests, you can click this to install Office 365 on your PC, Mac, phone or tablet. This’ll redirect you to a page where you can select which device and version of Office 365 you want.
After that you just need to download the file and install it. The installation process itself lasted approximately half-an-hour for me. But the only challenging part of it was the wait.
After a few simple clicks, I was ready to test Office 365
At first glance, it was a bit tough to tell whether the installation process succeeded. I didn’t see any new icons on my PC’s desktop. But after a bit of digging into the “all apps” menu in Windows 10, I found my new tools. Everything Office 365 promised was here.
I decided to open my new copy MS Word 2016 and type everything you just read. So far, I’m impressed and have absolutely nothing to complain about. Office 365 has given me the tool that I use daily and it works seamlessly. The best example of this would be my Grammarly plug-in, which I use daily. I installed this plug-in on my old copy of MS Word 2013. When I logged into MS Word 2016, it was already here and I didn’t have to do anything.
We then proceeded to try out the rest of Office 365’s offerings. All of it worked seamlessly on the PC. So, I decided to take my tests to the next frontier: mobile. I already had MS Word on my phone as it’s a free app on the Play Store. This initially confused everyone at the ReadMe office at first. Why is Microsoft asking us to pay for a free app?
It was only after I opened the app that I learned the answer. With an Office 365 subscription, you unlock additional features of Microsoft’s mobile productivity apps. You can find a full list of these new features here. However, these features don’t change much of the core experience with writing articles on mobile with the MS Word app.
It takes some getting used to but overtime MS Word becomes one of the best apps to write on mobile. With it, you can make last minute changes to that document your boss wanted yesterday or write articles while stuck in traffic because bus drivers are masters at creating chaotic traffic. But one of the coolest features is how both versions are in sync.
I wrote the last 3 paragraphs you just read on my phone. My PC was in front of me the whole time. As I typed the words on my phone, I saw them appear on my PC as well. There was a noticeable lag of a few seconds. Yet, with each change I made to the document both versions were updated. This guarantees that you always have the latest draft of a document. Additionally, if you’re doing a group project, you can easily collaborate with your teammates in real-time.
But how much does Office 365 cost? Well that depends
As mentioned earlier, Office 365 is sold on a subscription basis. Additionally, like MS Office it too has its own set of subscription plans and offerings. Currently for individuals and small businesses, Microsoft is selling Office 365 in two packages. These packages are:
- Office 365 Home at Rs. 13,500/= per year
- Office 365 Personal at Rs. 12,000/= per year
The only difference between the two is minute. The Home version allows you to install Office 365 on 5 devices, whereas the Personal version only allows you to do so on 1 device. You can compare the two versions in detail here.
Microsoft also has business plans for Office 365. However, these don’t seem to be localized yet. But businesses are the ones that are likely to benefit the most out of Office 365. As an individual, it might be easiest to simply make a one-time payment and buy MS Office, rather than opting for the subscription model for Office 365. Yet, for a small subscription Microsoft guarantees that you always have the latest version of its popular productivity suite.
For small businesses, the story isn’t so grey. Office 365 provides a cheap accessible way for small businesses to utilize the Microsoft Office suite. Not only is the entire suite provided in one plan. But Microsoft also ensures that it stays updated across all platforms. This saves anyone working in the IT department a major hassle.
Overall, if you’re interested in always having the latest tools inside the Microsoft Office Suite, then Office 365 is for you. For a small fee, Microsoft guarantees that you’ll always have the latest versions of its popular tools. If you want to try out Office 365 for yourself, here’s where you need to head over to.