This spring Microsoft will offer a new, cheaper subscription option for its Office 365 service. For $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, Office 365 Personal will let you install Office on one PC or Mac and one tablet.
That’s $30 per year less than the price of Office 365 Home Premium, which lets you run Office software on up to 5 computers.
Office 365 includes access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher and Access and allows you to sync your data with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage. Subscribers also get 20GB of storage with their subscription fee and 60 minutes of free calls on Skype to more than 60 countries around the world.
You can already use Office Online for free. It’s Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs & Sheets. But Office 365 may be the cheapest way to install Office on your computer… sort of.
You can still skip the subscription and buy Office outright. Office Home & Student 2013, for instance, sells for $140. That’s the same as paying for two years of Office 365 Personal… but you don’t get access to Outlook, Publisher, or Access with that price. To get all of the Microsoft Office apps, you’d need to pay $400 for Office Professional… which is more than 5 times the price of an Office 365 Personal subscription.
The subscription deal also includes upgrades, so if Microsoft releases a new version of Office while you’re still paying, you get access to the new software automatically for no extra charge.
Of course there’s still a cheaper option: use LibreOffice, OpenOffice.org, or another free office suite instead of Microsoft Office. But if that’s not an option for some reason, it’s nice to have yet another (cheaper) option for paying for Microsoft Office.