Is Microsoft Office 365 worth it?

Should you buy into Microsoft’s monthly subscription for Office or is there a better way?



Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft Office is the staple software of modern home computing. Got a PC? Then you need to buy Microsoft Office to get Word, Excel and PowerPoint, right?

That used to be the case.

Nowadays, millions of people have ditched Office for the free Google suite of Docs, Sheets and Slides and embraced cloud computing. But for some, the comfort and familiarity of Microsoft’s productivity software is too much to give up and besides, Microsoft offers cloud storage too. 

It used to be simple: buy a computer, then buy a CD-ROM loaded with Office. An easy, one-off payment and the software was yours forever (or until your PC gave up). If you want to, you can still do it this way via a one-time download (RIP CD-ROMs). 

But Office 365 is the way Microsoft wants you to buy into Office – as a monthly or annual subscription payment that embraces the convenience of cloud storage and services across your multiple devices. 

Here, we take a look at what Office 365 gives you and if it’s worth investing in over buying Office outright.

What devices does Microsoft Office 365 work on?

Office 365 is compatible with any modern PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or Android tablet (check exact requirements here). 

Credit: Microsoft

How much is Microsoft Office 365 in Australia?

There are two tiers of the Office 365 subscription: Home or Personal. There’s not much of a price difference between the two but go for Personal if you only need Office for yourself. For a little more, Home lets you share the benefits with up to six people so is ideal for families.

The annual costs saves you money compared to paying monthly, but the monthly subscription is more flexible as you can cancel at any time. 

Microsoft Office 365 Home costs AU$129 per year, or AU$13 per month

Microsoft Office 365 Personal costs AU$99 per year, or AU$10 per month

You can try Office for one month as a free trial but it requires your payment details, and will charge you for an annual subscription at the end of the trial unless you cancel. 

Credit: Alejandro Escamilla / Microsoft

What does Microsoft Office 365 include?

Both Home and Personal include the full suite of Office apps and services. The only difference is that Home gives access to six people, while Personal is just for one.

Microsoft Office 365 Home includes:

  • Office for up to 6 people across all their devices

  • Apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

  • Word

  • Excel

  • PowerPoint

  • Outlook

  • Publisher (PC only)

  • Access (PC only)

  • OneDrive with 1TB storage for 6 people

  • Skype

  • OneNote

  • Technical support

Microsoft Office 365 Personal includes:

  • Office for one 1 person across all their devices

  • Apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

  • Word

  • Excel

  • PowerPoint

  • Outlook

  • Publisher (PC only)

  • Access (PC only)

  • OneDrive with 1TB storage for 1 person

  • Skype

  • OneNote

  • Technical support

Either one is a great deal as it offers every Office service and unlimited sign-ins across devices, so you can use Office on your computer, tablet and phone and any other device you might have (for example more than one computer or on your personal and work phone). 

You just download the apps you want from the app store on your PC, Mac, phone or tablet and then sign in with your Microsoft account details. 

As well as access to everything and a generous 1TB of cloud storage, Office 365 is great because it will automatically update all of the software to the latest version. So when Microsoft improves Word, you’ll get the update over the internet.

Credit: Microsoft

That perk goes for every service on Office 365.

It’s worth noting that if you stop paying for Office 365, you can no longer access any of the services. You have to keep paying to keep access to the apps and your existing files. 

Office 365 suggests you save those files in the cloud using OneDrive, but it is possible to save files directly to your devices instead if you prefer, which is an easier way of having access to your saved files if you plan to only pay for Office for a short amount of time.

Can you buy Microsoft Office outright?

If you don’t like the idea of a monthly subscription and would prefer to pay once for Office and have it forever like the good old days then you can still do that with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019 (current version at the time of writing).

Office 365 does not have a year in its branding it as it is constantly updated. Buying Office Home & Student 2019 as a one-off purchase means you will forever have that edition of Office, and you won’t receive software updates to add new features or upgrade to the next year’s version. It does however receive security updates.

Office Home & Student costs AU$199 as a one-off payment and includes:

  • 1 person for only 1 PC or 1 Mac

  • Word

  • Excel

  • PowerPoint

  • OneNote

Unfortunately, that’s it - buying Office outright does not get you popular apps like Outlook for email or OneNote. It also doesn’t get you OneDrive cloud storage, and you can’t use the apps on your phone or tablet - you must download Office to one PC or Mac and forever use it there.

It is quite restrictive, and we only recommend Office Home & Student’s one-off payment if you want the basic Word, Excel and PowerPoint set up on one computer and if you save files locally to the computer or a hard drive.

Otherwise, Microsoft is clearly pushing a superior version of Office with Office 365. While it might take a while to get your head round an annual payment for software, the advantages are clear to see. Think of it as the Netflix of home computing.

Credit: Photo 69434098 © Dennizn -

You get the latest version of every app regularly updated, generous cloud storage, an email client, sign-in across all your devices for up to six people and technical support. That’s a pretty good deal. 

If you’re comfortable with cloud storage and need Office on more than your computer then Office 365 is worth the spend - it’s more the getting used to paying a subscription for something that used to be a one off purchase that is the barrier rather than the value of the software itself.

This article was originally published on the 19th of December 2019.

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By Henry Burrell

PC World
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