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Microsoft Office Confusion

Microsoft Office - Confusion Unraveled

Are you totally confused about what version of office to get, OR, do you even need it? After all, it can be seen as expensive for some, and you may only need to write the odd letter or just do a few simple things right?

Confused? Here is what some of my customers say:


‘I only need to write some letters’

 ‘I just want to do Outlook and letters’

 ‘Do I need Office?’

‘Why do I have to pay again next year?’

‘Can I use something else?’




The short:

Microsoft Office comes in several flavors, only 2 factors (in my opinion) for most of us need considering: ‘COST’ & ‘WHAT DO YOU WANT IT FOR’

If you only want to write letters, and maybe a little spreadsheet for your club accounts – buy the standalone version ‘Office 2016′(No subscription) The orange Microsoft banner takes you to their simple quick overview. Although not mentioned by anyone so far - Office is a download, you DO NOT get a CD to install it.

Don’t want to spend anything really  – Goto alternatives further down this page.

The Long:

Office 2016 is the latest release of Microsoft Office. In contrast to the cloud-based Office 365, it is the traditional desktop version of the suite.Standalone, no subscription with some limitations

Office 2016 comes in a variety of versions you can see in the Microsoft table further down this page. In particular, you may be interested in a discounted student version, if you qualify.

You can buy Office 2016 the same way as past versions, by paying for it once.

You could opt for an older version: Office 2013, Office 2010 or Office 2013 (easily found on places like eBay). Support for Office 2003 has ended. The trade off is that, while these versions may be cheaper, they will lose support sooner and could cause you compatibility issues with users who have upgraded. On a personal note, as a home user, I  use this generally, but it is not a life controlling tool. This page is aimed at the home/ casual /infrequent user who is not looking to pay for the latest and greatest, just wants to get the job done satisfactorily.

I know of many who are quiet happy with the older versions of Office, though you may have to download a compatability update to read documents compiled in the latest versions.Office 365 is the productivity portion of Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud, and the new Office 2013 is part of Office 365.

If this is making your head swim keep in mind this is a pretty big shift in productivity trends. A great way to solidify this is by reading Office 365 and Office 2013…What’s the Difference?

Office 365 comes in professional, organizational, personal, or student subscription plans rather than a one-time purchase.

Office 2013 comes in a special version for Windows 8 RT devices such as Microsoft’s Surface RT.

A few limitations exist in this version, so it really pays to check this out before deciding on your hardware. If you already have an RT device, this is the most robust version of Office that will work on it, and it probably came pre-installed anyway. More »

Office 365 is a subscription service that ensures you always have the most up-to-date tools from Microsoft. There are Office 365 plans for home and personal use, as well as for small and mid-sized businesses, large enterprises, schools, and nonprofits.

All Office 365 plans for home and personal use include Office 2016 with the fully installed Office applications that you’re familiar with, like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, plus extra online storage, ongoing tech support at no extra cost, and more. You can choose to pay for your subscription on a monthly or yearly basis, and the Office 365 Home plan lets you share your subscription with up to four members of your household.

Business Office School Use, I would Strongly suggest, if you are contemplating Office for running your business or family use, to use Microsoft Office. The others here I have looked at, though very good, doing an equally good job may lack  the enormous support, not to mention the fact that so many of us use it. It would be safe to say: it is the de-facto  office environment we are all used to using, as well as  the template for all equivalents. If you save a document, it is recognized by nearly all other readers. Example: students (school pupils) will find it easier to use Microsoft Office at home as the educational department will most certainly operating in Microsoft environment. I have often heard schools use some specific Microsoft Office component features, encoding and security that may not be available in other office environments But there are always workarounds)

Most of the Office 365 plans for business, schools, and nonprofits include the fully installed applications, but Microsoft also offers basic plans with the online versions of Office, file storage, and email. You decide what works best for you: Smaller business, Enterprise, School, or Nonprofit.

Office 2016 is also sold as a one-time purchase, which means you pay a single, up-front cost to get Office applications for one computer. One-time purchases are available for both PCs (such as Office Home & Student 2016) and Macs (such as Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac). One-time purchases don’t have an upgrade option, which means if you plan to upgrade to the next major release, you’ll have to buy it at full price.


Compare Office 2016 as a one-time purchase to an Office 365 subscription

One-time purchase (Example: Office Home & Student 2016) Office 365 subscription (Example: Office 365 Home)
Cost Pay a single, one-time cost Pay a small monthly fee, or save by paying for a full year
Office applications Get Office 2016 applications, like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Your apps won't be updated when new features are released. Get the latest version of Office applications, like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Right now that’s Office 2016, but your version will continue to receive new feature updates. PC users also get Access and Publisher.
Feature updates Security updates are included, but you won’t get new features that are added to Office 2016. Upgrades to major releases aren't included. Your version of Office will always be improving. Get the latest features and updates from Microsoft. Major upgrades to future versions are included.
Install Office on more than one computer (Mac or PC) One-time purchases are designed for a single operating system, so your copy of Office is good for either one Mac or one PC. With Office 365 Home, you can install Office desktop applications on up to 5 computers, which can be a combination of Macs and PCs. If you don’t need all of those installs, share them with members of your household.
Install Office and get advanced features on tablets and phones Get basic editing features only on your tablet or phone. Get extra features when you sign in to Office apps on your device. With Office 365 Home, you'll get these extra features on up to 5 tablets and 5 smartphones.
Extra online storage Not included. Securely store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere. Get 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage per user, for up to 5 users (Office 365 Home).
Technical support is included Initial technical support is included for installing only. Contact us throughout your subscription at no extra cost for help with technical issues, or for subscription and billing support.

Still confused? quick n dirty sum up:

Three flavors of Office – ‘Home’ , ‘Personal’ and ‘Home and Student’ (for the home small office user)

HOME – Includes 5 Users, £79.99 per year, 60 minutes Skype calls each, 1TB Cloud space each

PERSONAL – 1 User, £59.99, 60 min Skype calls , 1TB Cloud space

OFFICE HOME AND STUDENT – 1 User£119.99, No Cloud, NO Skype, No Outlook

Click on the Office 365 banners if you want to go straight there view details or buy - No middle man

Watch the video

Fed up with Microsoft Office?  Want to try a FREE alternative? Want to know a little more?

The alternatives:

If Microsoft Office seems a bit expensive, you may want to consider a FREE , that's right, completely free alternative option such as ‘Libre Office’ , ‘ WPS Pffice ‘ or ‘Open Office’

Read the basics below, or relax and watch the brief video just here on the right

Watch the Video:

Libre Office FREE - DOWNLOAD

The creators of open source LibreOffice took a look at Microsoft Office and said, “Let’s make sure we can do everything Office can’t.” There’s even a useful (and lengthy) graph that displays all the differences and extra compatibility that LibreOffice has compared to Microsoft’s version. This includes support for a vast number of imports and exports for multiple graphic and document formats on both Mac and Windows systems. If you are using more distinctive software and are worried that Office won’t be able to handle your industry-specific formats, then LibreOffice is more than happy to step in.

Libre Writer:

Nice and simple, very easy to use. As much as WPS has the look n feel of Microsoft Office, I got to say I like this. Everything in the right place

Libre Calc (Spreadshhets):

Simple and as with Writer, everything where it should be, feel like a pro as all is where you expect it to be and easy to use.


The interface does look a little dated, so if using software that bears more than a passing resemblance to something from the 90s, Apache OpenOffice may not be for you. But, of course, looks are not everything.

What's particularly impressive is the inclusion of a database in addition to a drawing tool and even a formula creation program – just about every possibility is covered by this impressive suite.

Open Office Writer:

Simple, not easy as WPS or Microsoft but robust and straight forward. I could only save in Microsoft Office 2003 format though there were many other formats Microsoft would easily recognize, so not a big problem.

Open Office Spreadsheet

Easy to use, robust but lacking all the excessive features that Microsoft offers. That said as a free alternative, it works very well.


At its heart are the three main tools for words, presentations and spreadsheets (hence the name). WPS Office Free also offers some beautiful extra touches, particularly concerning PDFs. Not only is it possible to save documents created in WPS Office as PDFs, you can also convert from PDF to Word. Compatibility is a major feature of the suite, with each of the component program able to save in native Office formats, and the suite is available not only for Windows but also Linux and Android

WPS Writer:

WPS Writer:

Look and feel are very similar to Microsoft Office 365 Word. Easy to use, everything is in a familiar place, and I can look at Word Docs no problem at all. In my preliminary tests, I was pleased to find I could open Microsoft Word docs, and save in Word 2010 format.


Wow, I am impressed right off the bat. If no one told me, I would have mistaken this for Excel until I looked a little closer. All in all this does what I want it too. It comes with a huge amount of templates too.

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