With the release and growing popularity of Microsoft Office’s 365 product, the obvious naming scheme of the past is thrown into some confusion. Whereas in the past, with 2003, 2007, 2010 and so on, it was easy to know which version you had, Office 365 (introduced in 2011) changes that. So just what is the difference between it and Office 2016?
The primary one, as you might expect, is that Microsoft Office365 is an online subscription (pay monthly) service, where Office 2016 is an ‘on-premise’ option. That has notable implications for how your business can buy and pay for the productivity applications required to get things done.
Back in 2011, the then-current Office 2010 was available on a DVD for a (quite hefty) once-off purchase price, or a license fee from a Microsoft partner. With the move to software as a service and the growing trend for people to want a subscription, Microsoft’s shift to Office365 has provided new and highly attractive alternatives, particularly for the small business. Be sure to also check out the video on our website, but in the interim let’s have a look at the 4 main options:
Option 1 – Not everyone realises it, but Office.com allows you to use a free (but slightly cut down) internet-only version of Outlook, Powerpoint, Word and Excel. Using this option requires a free Microsoft account – which many people already have to access services like Outlook.com, Xbox Live, OneDrive or Skype.
All your files must be stored in either OneDrive or DropBox, and you can use the free mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. This is can be a good option for start-up or micro businesses but there is a catch: limited editing capabilities and reduced features.
Option 2 –Buy and download the ‘on-premise’ version of Office 2016 directly from the Microsoft store. It starts at $299 (for either Windows or Mac) and includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote and Outlook. The Professional edition includes Access and Publisher; that’s priced at $599.
Office is occasionally bundled and pre-installed with new PCs or laptops; log in and pay once-off price to activate it. In both cases, the license allows Office to be installed on just one 1 PC or Mac.
Option 3 – Volume licensing of Office 2016 is still available, but it has high upfront costs when compared with the Office 365 subscription alternative. With this ‘old school’ model, there is substantial complexity and many options; broadly, however, it starts with a minimum of 5 licenses and an agreement via the Open Business model. These licenses provide Software Assurance for 24 months, providing for an upgrade to any future version released within that period.
From a cost perspective, Office 2016 Standard Edition on this model costs around $900 for each license. Yes, it is expensive.
Option 4 – With Microsoft Office365, you can pay a monthly subscription for every license (user) required. The first thing anyone wants to know is ‘how much’: be prepared for a surprise as it is really affordable, and ‘as a service’ means you always get the latest version.
Right now, the Microsoft Office 365 Business plan is just $13.20 per user per month, with an annual commitment. Not only does this include the full ‘installed’ version of Office, but you can install it on up to 5 PCs and/or Macs and 5 mobile devise per user. That’s a great reflection of how we work today: if you have a laptop at work and a Mac at home plus a Surface Tablet and a Windows phone, Office works across all of them.
There’s more. You also receive 1TB of OneDrive file storage, along with 24/7 phone support for critical issues and IT-level web support.
For just over 13 bucks a month, you get a complete solution, with cloud storage and support, on every device – but that’s only if you go with the ‘Business’ plan. A stripped down ‘Essentials’ plan is available which doesn’t include the full desktop suite (but instead the online-only versions of Microsoft Office 365 applications), but does offer 50GB of email, 1TB OneDrive, Skype for Business and Yammer. That’s priced at $7 per user per month with an annual commitment.
For ‘the works’, go for the Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium plan which brings together the Essentials and Business plans into one package for only $17.50 per user per month (based on annual commitment). That delivers everything, integrated and always up to date. Business Premium is our recommendation for what is arguably the ultimate in productivity software available today – at a price any business can afford.