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Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365: Which version is right for you?

So. Many. Choices. Microsoft took the wraps off Office 2013 yesterday and, like many Microsoft products, there are numerous versions designed to give you options. Unfortunately, this also causes confusion. Adding to the fun is the company’s new Office 365, a subscription-based version of the venerable suite that ups the ante with 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage and consistent updates. Is the right version of Office 2013 for you behind door number one, two, three, or four? Or will you give a rose to a very special version of Office 365? We break down what you’ll get in each version below.

The biggest decision you’ll have to make when choosing your new Office suite will be whether you want to buy the suite outright or subscribe to it. There are pros and cons to both depending on how you plan on using the software and for how long. First off, forget about upgrading if you’re still running Windows XP or Vista. All flavors of Office 2013 and Office 365 require you to use Windows 7 or 8 if you’re not an enterprise customer.

Have a Mac? No new Office suite for you! While Microsoft supports Intel-based Macs with Office 365, the most recent version for Apple users is Office for Mac 2011.

 

Office Home
Premium 365 

Office 365
University 
Office 
Home &

Student
2013
Office
Home &

Business
2013 
Office
Professional
2013 
Price $100/year $80/4 years $140 $220 $400

Software
Included 

 Word, Excel,
PowerPoint,
OneNote,
Outlook,
Publisher &
Access
 Word, Excel, 
PowerPoint,
OneNote,
Outlook, 
Publisher &
Access 
Word, Excel,
PowerPoint &
OneNote 
Word, Excel,
PowerPoint,
OneNote
& Outlook 
 Word, Excel, 
PowerPoint,
OneNote,
Outlook, 
Publisher &
Access 
Licenses  1
OSes

Windows 7,
Windows 8, 
Mac OS X 10.5.8 & 
Windows 8 Tablets

Windows 7,
Windows 8, 
Mac OS X 10.5.8 & 
Windows 8 Tablets 
Windows 7 &
Windows 8 
Windows 7 &
Windows 8 
Windows 7 &
Windows 8 
Extras 20GB SkyDrive
storage &
60 min of Skype
international calls 
20GB SkyDrive
storage &
60 min of Skype 
international calls  
7GB SkyDrive
storage 
7GB SkyDrive
storage 
 7GB SkyDrive
storage

Perhaps the best way to look at all of your Office options is to think about how you and your family plan on using the software. If you have multiple kids in junior high and high school with their own laptops, then Office 365 will save you money over buying multiple copies of Home & Student. If you have one family computer and that’s it, then the traditional boxed software will be cheaper. 

The bonus of Office 365 is that you’ll always have the most updated software right at your fingertips, whether you’re using a Windows 8 tablet or a desktop. The traditional versions of the software, Office 2013, will still receive updates, but it’s a safe bet that they won’t be as fast or as frequent.

Another aspect to consider is what software you use most often. If you use Publisher and Access, but blanch at the thought of paying $400 upfront, the $100 yearly subscription will be right up your alley. Likewise, if you’re a fan of Outlook, Office 365 will save you money upfront, especially if you’re using it on more than one PC. 

Still undecided? Microsoft offers a free 30-day trial of Office 365 Home Premium so you can experience the magic for yourself. If you’re still not convinced that Office is for you, check out our suggestions for the best Microsoft Office alternatives

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