Microsoft

Office for iPad proves that Office 365 is the best value

Office 365 was already the better value, but Office for iPad is the cherry on top that clearly sets it apart from buying the traditional Microsoft Office desktop suite.

Office 365

Microsoft offers the Office productivity suite either as a one-time purchase for the traditional, standalone collection of desktop tools or through an Office 365 subscription. While both options are on the table, Microsoft has not been all that subtle when it comes to which model it thinks users should embrace. Now, with the launch of Office for iPad, the Office 365 subscription wins hands down.

Some users balk at the idea of paying for Microsoft Office indefinitely. The fact is that Office 365 is less expensive up front, possibly less expensive over time, and includes a variety of perks and benefits that you don't get with the standalone suite -- like Office for iPad.

When you buy the standalone Microsoft Office desktop suite, that's all you get. The desktop suite costs significantly more up front and is licensed for only one PC. Period. Office Home & Student 2013 costs $140, and it only includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. For $220, you can get Office Home & Business 2013, which adds Outlook -- or for $400 you can get Office Professional 2013, which includes everything in Office Home & Business 2013, plus Publisher, Access, and some additional tools.

Compare that to Office 365. Office 365 Personal costs $70 per year. It includes licensing for the current version of Office on a PC or Mac, and on a tablet, and it also comes with 20 GB of cloud storage on OneDrive, plus 60 minutes per month for Skype calls. Just comparing the value of Office 365 Personal against the cost of Office Professional 2013, it will take almost six years of Office 365 subscription payments before you'll spend the same $400.

By that time, Microsoft will most likely have launched one, possibly two new versions of the productivity suite. Office Professional 2013 and the $400 investment will be obsolete in a couple years, but the Office 365 subscription includes the most current version of Office, so you'll always have the most up-to-date tools. Even if you don't really need all of the applications in Office Professional 2013, it would take two years of Office 365 Personal to equal the $140 that it would cost to buy Office Home & Student 2013, and you wouldn't get the additional benefits.

For a family, the math is even more compelling. For $100 a year, the Office 365 Home subscription provides licensing for up to five individuals to install the current version of Office on a PC or Mac, as well as on a tablet, and each person also gains the additional Skype calling minutes and OneDrive storage space. Purchasing five copies of the standalone Office Professional 2013 suite would cost $2,000, so it will take 20 years of subscribing to Office 365 Home before it hits a break even, and that doesn't include the extra perks that come with Office 365.

As far as I'm concerned, the math has always favored Office 365. There has been some confusion from customers under the impression that Office 365 is a cloud-based version of Office, but the reality is that you're buying the exact same software -- you're just paying for it a different way, and getting a variety of benefits in exchange.

Office for iPad is icing on the cake. The Office for iPad apps are very well designed and essentially bring the full power and features of the Office desktop suite to the Apple tablet. Microsoft has done a superb job customizing the Office experience for a touch screen environment, and we can expect that similar touch-enabled apps will soon come to Windows 8 / RT and Android. To unlock the full value and productivity of the tablet-based Office apps, you must have an Office 365 subscription.

For what it's worth, you don't have to buy Microsoft Office at all -- neither the desktop suite nor the Office 365 subscription. If you're okay relying on web-based tools, you can use Office Web Apps for free through Microsoft's OneDrive site. They don't have all of the features and functions of the full Microsoft Office programs, but they'll get the job done.

You can also use free tools that are roughly equivalent to Office like Google Docs, Apple's iWork programs (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote), or a free open-source suite (including LibreOffice). All of these alternatives are good enough for most cases. However, if you have to work frequently with Microsoft Office file formats, you're better off with the real thing, because other productivity tools frequently mess up the formatting when working with Office file formats.

Ultimately, if you're going to buy Microsoft Office, make sure you do yourself a favor and sign up for Office 365 instead of just buying the Microsoft Office desktop suite.

Is Office 365 the best office suite for your business needs? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About

Tony Bradley is a principal analyst with Bradley Strategy Group. He is a respected authority on technology, and information security. He writes regularly for Forbes, and PCWorld, and contributes to a wide variety of online and print media outlets. He...

61 comments
craja753
craja753

Looks biased. The words used resembles paid review.


User comments are explaining well.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

Who does it 'win' for?   Certainly not professional users that need all the programs the Professional/Ultimate version comes with.  And tossing in bling like Skype and the cloud as subsitutes doesn't help - is that some sort of payoff for consumers?

I need real, *complete* programs .. just like I need a fully functional o/s (Win7, thank you).  And there is *nothing* related to the work I do that will ever see the cloud.  Even if MS gave it away.

A recent statement from the new CEO at Microsoft indicates they're emphasizing 'Mobile now and Cloud now.'  What about the rest of things?   More people to throw under the bus?  Must be getting pretty bumpy to drive those 'Connect' busses around the MS campus.  Can't they coordinate in more than one direction at once?  

And another 'new' emphasis will be on apps - *one* app (size) fits all:  PC/laptop, tablet, and phone.  I can't think of anything more non-functional.

I'm not sure the new guy 'gets it.'

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

Not a better value if you use Open Office, or Libre Office. 

It's more like a massive ripoff!

ebeckeritsys
ebeckeritsys

Since switching to Apple products the entire office suite is available at no cost.  I still purchased Office and installed it on my Mac and these programs are the only ones to crash or lock up the computer and stop responding.  Microsoft has a long way to go to beat the cost of the iWork suite!

Stiff9x
Stiff9x

No, sorry I have a hard time with this.  I agree with some of the comments and MS desperation to try to hold on to revenue.  Initially when I seen they were giving this product away for Android and iPhone users I applauded and likely would have then considered to keep MS in my Product considerations.  However, then I saw that iPad users would have to pay for the same product they may have on their phone, they lost me.  


The reality is there are a number of legitimate organizations putting out OS's Office like products for free which is definitely tapping MS's typically reliable base for revenue.  But people are tired of the licensing issues with MS for their OS (i.e.  Can only install so many times and then have to phone).  It's my computer and if I or my clients want to rebuild it 100 times that's my choice (Or upgrade hardware numerous times).  Now they're feeling it with the Office suite and although they typically set the bar and established the norm that others have used as a standard, the entities products are free.


You might still get me when I buy a new system but it's pretty obvious your scrambling for revenues when you change your licensing from the buy option to subscription based.  I don't by products that are subscription based except of course for Satellite TV and I'm even getting away from that with all the new alternatives out there.  In the end I will likely turf the Microsoft OS and go with a free alternative.

cybershooters
cybershooters

Disagree - "Office for iPad" only consists of a word processor, a spreadsheet program and a presentation program.  You do not need Microsoft's programs for that, you need Office for Outlook and Access.  Also having "free upgrades" does not make sense necessarily, you may want to stick with the familiar for awhile.  Especially the case with businesses.  People dislike learning programs over and over.

accqmedwriter
accqmedwriter

This is really great discussion for me.  For my businesss, I am frequently using a client's laptop but signing into my own Office 365 account.  I also have an iPad, which I carry around all the time.  It would be a great benefit to me if I could quickly revise a document or spreadsheet on the iPad from where I happen to be, without having to find internet access, drag out the computer, sign in, edit, and send.  My concern is that if I paid $100 to get MS Office on my iPad, then when I signed in from a clients laptop - would the software push to the laptop and knock out the MS office already on the laptop?  This would not make for happy clients. 

Idrill
Idrill

I have the Office 365 SB for $6/month. I was disappointed that they do not offer the tablet app with this version. I use it primarily for Outlook as I have Verizon which does not support IMAP.

Worth2Cents
Worth2Cents

I keep trying to see the catch that everyone is complaining about, but I seem to be missing it.

According to the article, Office Pro has a one-time cost of $400, for use on only one device. Office 365 costs $100/year, for use on 10 devices. Suppose I don't need to upgrade for 5 years, Office Pro is still $400, while Office 365 will be $500, spread across 10 devices, at $10 per device over 5 years.

I'm not seeing how $400 for Office Pro on one computer is better than $10 for Office 365 on the same computer, even after a reasonable lifecycle.

What am I not getting? 

geoffejohnson
geoffejohnson

The one-off $100 I paid some years ago for 3 x Office 2007 Home & Student licences still seems like best value to me.  I still have yet to find anything I am unable to achieve with that version of the software.  Although this is only for home use, I am a retired IT Consultant and  using far more functionality than the average person, I suspect.


Let's not get caught up in MS's desperate attempts to boost their revenue with Office 365 or Office 2013.  What is it you are lacking in the older Office products?  If the answer is the ability to create content on an iPad then I pity you.  Just try doing that full time for a year and see which device you prefer to use for writing long documents or creating complex spreadsheets.


Come on guys, get real.  MS are just out to fleece us all!

stnwall
stnwall

You analysis is reasonable for a small business just starting or anybody not on an enterprise agreement with software assurance who cares about the latest version. If you do not need the newest version every time or you are already paying MUCH less than a subscription for the SA benefits of the latest version, then the subscription model make zero sense.

Henry3Dogg
Henry3Dogg

"The Office for iPad apps are very well designed and essentially bring the full power and features of the Office desktop suite to the Apple tablet."

How long did you spend using it?  Clearly you didn't try printing.

thebaldguy
thebaldguy

ROTFLMAO! Not paying for an office suite at ALL is the best value, unless you're in that tiny unfortunate minority of mankind which must use the Microsoft product.

Henry3Dogg
Henry3Dogg

"Office for iPad proves that Office 365 is the best value"

Which definition of "proves" and "best" are you using?

If you mean the Office 365 on the iPad is the best value way of running MS Office on the iPad,  then yes, Office 365 is the best option of a set containing only one option.  And of course it's also the worst.

If you mean that Office for iPad proves that Office 365 is the best value for editing MS Office documents on the iPad, then you could hardly be more wrong.

Of the many ways of doing this Office 365 is one of the worst and certainly the most expensive, so how can it be the best value?



emilyastor
emilyastor

Hi Tony, I'm looking to buy the Office 365 Personal. I want to ask if the new 2014 version would be compatible with Windows XP or Vista on a PC. On Microsoft's website, it says you need Windows 7 or above. I don't need another version of Office on my comp but I would really like one on my iPad. Do you think it is worth it then if they are all compatible?

simonschilder
simonschilder

Office 365 for smb is up to 25 users. We are just above that level so we have to take the enterprise version which includes all teh features we do not want, like publisher and access. cost about €150 (yes that is Euro's not dollars) A home and office version of Office 2013 (word, Excel, Outlook and Ppoint) will cost me €189.

Average lifetime of our pc's is at least 3, probably more like 5 years. So that calculation is a quick one.

And do not start on yes, but you get the latest version all the time. We switched from Windows XP and office 2003 to Windows 8 and office 2013 last year. Guess which of those 2 I STILL get questions even after 8 months....a hint, it does not start with W...

jpinkney
jpinkney

Obviously, what Microsoft wants is to make more money -- that is what capitalism is all about.  So what Microsoft is encouraging us to do is not the issue. The real question is "Is this a compelling value for the user?"

jpinkney
jpinkney

The licenses for home and personal do not give you the right to create files for use by organizations, either for-profit or non-profit.  For that, you need one of the business-level licenses.  That needs to be factored into any discussion of costs.  So a home/personal license "apple" is definitely not the equivalent of a business license "orange".

adornoe
adornoe

While people and other companies slept, MS has developed one of the biggest cash cows ever heard of on the planet.


Imagine that, after a few years, MS gets to sell 100 million licenses for O-365, at $100 (yeah, I know that each license could include up to 5 devices).  That would would come to a nice yearly revenue amount of $10 billion.  That would be a bullet-proof generator of yearly income.  That item alone represents revenue that is equivalent to a major company; and then, one has to consider all of the other products and services and software that MS has in its repertoire, and the things it has in its R&D department which will add even more services and products and devices and software.  


That 100 million potential licenses could turn out to be a conservative number, and when Android users get added to the O-365 market, the number of licenses could potentially double or more. 


Nah!  There must be something wrong with my estimates, since, that kind of money would be very obscene, especially for a product or service with recurring income every year.

crazythot
crazythot

Please clarify, for a family  is that $100.00 a month (hence 20 month recovery) or $100.00 a year (hence 20 year recovery)?

coco6809
coco6809

Duh!  This does not do well for everyone. I bought Office 2007 Ultimate and Office 2010 upgrade.  I only have one PC.  But to use Office on iPad I have to but it again, every year ($100+).  That is stupid for me.  And I don't need the latest Office all the time.  Let's be honest, do you really need that extra feature or two?  Most of us would say Office XP still works just fine.  Why pay money to a vendor for things you don't need?  It would be different if a new OS opened new features you needed.


Sure if you have 5 computers at home it makes sense (if you did not already buy licenses).


A smarter move would be to give it at a cheaper rate to those that already bought it for their desktop(s) (no advantage to 365.  They could let us enter our license key for a discounted rate.

fmifsud
fmifsud

Do you pay $100 annually or monthly?

fmifsud
fmifsud

That sound fantastic to me Fybcdave. I don't think you can describe MF benefits better that. Thanks 

fybcdave
fybcdave

I am on my second year of subscription, five users, including fifteen devices having office, three are Apple devices. AND, I can jump on any computer, anywhere, to access my documents in their original format...and make changes on any device to a file.

Robert.Brown.Align
Robert.Brown.Align

where the hell did you get those office prices?  You can still get Office 2010 from some sites for 170 per download. Office 2013 is basically the same thing as 2010 with upgraded UI's and the ability to easily sync to OneDrive. If you use the free version of Google drive you have 15GB of storage pay 1.99 a month and you get 100 GB of storage. So for a one time fee of 170, plus $24.00 a year you beat any cost associated with Office 365.

Niunio
Niunio

Have you heard about apples and oranges?

A man went to a grocery store. He wanted to buy fruit. Oranges were for 1.99. Apples were 0.99.

So he thought to himself. If I purchase apples for a year each day I am going to save over 360 bucks when not buying oranges. I can save even more if I go the store once a week.

Compare Home to Pro.

O. He definitely would save more with apples, because he doesn't need a knife.

Compare product to product next time please.

It stinks with cheap advertising.


cybershooters
cybershooters

@Stiff9x Yeah, absolutely, it's a false comparison.  One install on a PC or ten subscription-based installs.  Both options suck!  I want to buy it, have it and install it on all my PCs.  Or at the very least if I replace a PC I want to transfer the licence.

Patrick_Marion
Patrick_Marion

Likewise we have a 20 license subscription for Office 365 through my company, yet I cannot get Office 365 for iPad. Seems like MS is gouging again!

spawnywhippet
spawnywhippet

@Worth2Cents For starters, not many people have 10 devices, so the cost is more likely spread over 1 or 2 devices, so that is $50-$100 per year per device for 5 years = $250 to $500 per device, as compared to the Home license I have at $140 for infinity.

I keep my Office version for more than 5 years, and I can't ever see that I will want that clunky CAPS LOCK 2013 version, so for me, the subscription model is more expensive and it shoehorns me into versions that I detest.

cybershooters
cybershooters

@Worth2Cents It's an upfront cost and you've paid for it.  The overhead is known.  What is not known is how much Office 365 is going to cost years from now.

elvisfan0108
elvisfan0108

You do realize that Microsoft is a public company? Their business is to offer a product and make money.

mnamhie
mnamhie

@Henry3Dogg (adding to Henry's good comment) ... nor did you try making a PDF.  I can do that with Apples free Numbers for iPad but cannot with Excel for iPad.

ManoaHI
ManoaHI

@emilyastor  Office 365 definitely won't work on XP. I don't have Vista anymore, as soon as Windows 7 beta came out, so I can't test it. I think it is better to upgrade your machine, if you have at least Office 2007, you can upgrade your Vista without losing anything it.  

adornoe
adornoe

@jpinkney That same question should be asked about every device and software and service one purchases.  Your question is most valid when asking "Is purchasing an iPad or an iPhone a compelling value for me, especially considering that, they're priced much higher than comparable products, some of which are much better?"

thebaldguy
thebaldguy

@adornoe All I can say is they don't make a nickel off of me. But the fact that world rushes out to pay large bucks for an office app convinces me that removing survival of the fittest from human evolution is definitely having a bad effect on its overall intelligence.

fybcdave
fybcdave

You fail to consider that they probably made that kind of money before...especially since each of the five devices on my account purchased at least one upgrade in ten years...$2500...and I will spend $1000 in ten years! This is new twist on "family and friends", which assures MS a predictable income, but probably a lower income than the previous model. And for the O2003 crowd, you had to take time to find "reader" add-ins to open documents created on other businesses newer Office products...which took time, and costs you money. Of course this is trying to be an objective business analysis, not a "MS bash".

Tony_Bradley
Tony_Bradley

@crazythot -- That was an error in the original content. It is $100 per YEAR, not $100 per MONTH. The text of the article has been corrected to reflect the correct information.

crazythot
crazythot

Oh, I see the answer below.  LOL

Technical John
Technical John

@fybcdave  Been using Google Docs in the Google Apps paid version for 3 years, and been doing the exact same thing, all for $50/year.


While it's true that sending the document can sometimes be bothersome, we stopped sending and started sharing a document for editing. Saved us TONS of time, multiple people were able to edit documents and spreadsheets simultaneously (Microsoft seems to have this working for spreadsheets now, but Google pulled this off first).


This also enabled us to get away from the stupid Microsoft "open" formats, which are a complete mess to implement by anyone but Microsoft. ODF is also "open" and is very well documented and easy to implement, so no lock-in.

Tony_Bradley
Tony_Bradley

@Niunio - I am not sure what you are trying to say. It got lost somewhere in your analogy. Compare what Home to Pro? You get multiple licenses of the full Office Professional 2013 with either Office 365 Personal or Office 365 Home. It is a comparison between buying the exact same Office software through different methods.

fybcdave
fybcdave

Or an honest, objective review, offering good information??

ManoaHI
ManoaHI

@cybershooters @Stiff9x  In the subscription based Office 365, it is actually really easy to transfer the license. I installed Office 365 into my mother's PC (she lives with us) and her PC died. When I got the replacement, I just went to the Office 365 website and disabled the license, thus freeing it up for the new PC. I agree that every Office license should be a site (or at least a home) license, that would be ideal, however, I do like the subscription based licensing since we have 5 iPads, 2 Windows 8.1 PCs and three Macs. Just perfect. We don't really use Skype but for the occasional call to my wife's home country, it is useful. One drive is also a great add on, and when I got the subscription, you also get XBOX Gold for a year (I think this offer is now gone, but I when got Office 365 it was available and that last part was what sold me on Office 365 - my tipping point).

geoffejohnson
geoffejohnson

@elvisfan0108  

...then they should make something we need.  They are indeed a commercial company, not a charity.  If you want to throw your money at them all well and good; personally I can find better uses for mine.

info
info

@elvisfan0108 That's right, but just because a product is offered doesn't mean you have to buy it. This article makes it sound like this is the best thing since sliced bread. I challenge most people to find an advantage to it over the MS Office 2003 suite, or even Office 2000... Software is akin to living in Japan, where you're forced to buy a new engine for your car every 40k miles, regardless of it's condition.

emilyastor
emilyastor

@ManoaHI thanks for the info! I'll look into upgrading my comp!

What about creating files on Office 365 for iPad - will those open on an OS less than Windows 7? It's more the transfer of documents I'm concerned about. Once I make documents at uni, I work on them on my computer at home so being able to open them straight away is my main goal here. Otherwise I would stick with Evernote - free, but I keep having to email myself the documents and the formatting is no Word! Anyway I hope this question makes sense. Basically whether documents made on the iPad with Office 365 will open on any PC running any Windows as though the iPad was another computer itself. Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!!

ManoaHI
ManoaHI

@adornoe  No. The topic is, if you already have an iPad (or if you are now poised to buy one and especially if Office was your tipping point), and considering Office options. Which means you are already sold on Office. The issue is which one. Tony did not mention why you should get an iPad, nor did he even hint at it.

adornoe
adornoe

@thebaldguy @adornoe Ooh, I don't know about that, and you don't know about that either.

If the world had gone on living without a Microsoft which came on the scene some 30 years or so ago, would the world still have been the same?  Would the world be as advanced as it is now? Would Google even exist?  Would Apple have had a product equivalent to its iPad or iPhone?  

You might believe that you're not paying MS a nickle or dime, but, indirectly, they're being paid by you and everyone else that ever came in contact with any piece of software or OS or device or IT service.  You are paying Microsoft when you go to an ATM or to a cashier's workstation to pay for something you bought.  You are thinking small.  

adornoe
adornoe

@fybcdave The O-365 "yearly lease" is a new business paradigm for any Office package.  Office might have been a cash cow in the past for Microsoft, but, it's a bigger cash cow now with the yearly subscription model, which could bring in 100-200 million unique subscriptions.  That hasn't been done before in any product category.  And, Offiec 365 might be just the beginning of the "lease-worthy" products that Microsoft has developed or is developing.  XBox online is also a subscription model, and Windows 8 could also become a subscription service, at about, perhaps $25 per year.  Imagine never having to worry again about updating your OS and paying for it as a new version comes along.  Just pay $25 and be done with it, for the year.  In 4 years time, I would have paid just $100, but, Microsoft would have received those $400 from perhaps 500 million customers, or $200 billion.  

Not bad for a corporation which some say is on its last gasp.

cybershooters
cybershooters

@fybcdave "lower income"?  Only if you can tell me how much Office 365 will cost five years from now... which is why I'm not going to buy it.

brent.hawthorne
brent.hawthorne

@fybcdave  How many family members do you think bought separate device licenses before 365? I would suspect not too many, and that they were often at student prices.

info
info

@Tony_Bradley @NiunioThe assumption is that the Home or Personal products would not have the same applications that Professional offers, when Home Premium (can't see Personal yet) does...

thebaldguy
thebaldguy

@adornoe I can assure you beyond the tiniest shadow of a doubt that the IT world would be a better place had IBM not fallen for Bill Gates' smoke-and-mirrors barrel of bullspit.

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