So you’ve taken the plunge, and decided that Office is right for you. At least for some things. We’ll get to specific writing software later. Perhaps you already have Office 2010, or even the earlier version from 2003. You unbox your new computer, or open your new laptop, and decide to visit Microsoft Office’s new website, and find this on the products page:


Office 365? Office 2013? What’s wrong with my old Office 2010? What do I do now? It depends on what you need and what you want.



Office 365: How many machines do you plan to use Office on? Office 365 (Microsoft page here) can be loaded on up to 5 machines. This suite of Office (what I am using right now in a trial version) is an attempt by Microsoft to push Cloud computing: the idea being that then portable devices will not require as much memory, and you can work on even smaller devices, including your mobile phone. You do not have to put documents in the Cloud (your sky drive) but you can. This enables you to access them on any device that has Skydrive installed. (This is the Microsoft cloud storage. You can use Dropbox or Google Drive also.)

The primary con of Office 365 is this: currently it is compatible only with machines running Windows or Mac O/S. You cannot download Office 365 on your Android tablet or phone. It is not a perfect mobile solution. If you have a Surface or another Windows Tablet (Acer and HP both have great offerings in this category), an iPad or iPhone, a laptop or notebook (Mac or PC), or a Windows phone, it is compatible. This is not a solution so that you can edit documents on your Droid: however, Google has an answer for that we will explore in a later post.

Office 365 is a software subscription. You have to pay monthly or yearly (cheaper in the long run), but when upgrades come along, you are not buying a whole new suite, at least in theory. Also, the Home Premium of 365 includes more applications: not just Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote as the typical Home and Student, but it also includes Outlook, Access, and Publisher, all powerful tools.

Office 2013: Office 2013 is Office 365 for one computer only.  You pay once for each computer. Office Home and Student will run you nearly $140 (you can see the Office 2013 options here) A Professional Suite, including everything in Home Premium of Office 365 will run you close to $400. You can clearly see that Microsoft is trying hard to push the subscription service. I can see very few arguments in favor of this approach over 365, especially in light of Microsoft’s plans to roll out new software more quicly. (more on that in a later post).

Learnability and Compatibility are non-issues. The ribbon is still where it always was, with a few new options to explore. The new software continues to support all but the most outdated Excel formats.

WordWhat is wrong with my Word 2010? Nothing. The new Office does have some great features, a smooth interface, and it can read .pdf files now. Photos can be dropped anywhere in the document, better than the old alignment styles that had to be followed, and screwed up the formatting during edits if you were not careful. Links to other Office apps are easier from the insert line, and linking to online content has been streamlined. All of these things were possible with 2010, but primarily with the use of plug ins and secondary software. Compatibility with older formats remains, and the more advanced features of Word remain intact.  Other applications have been updated as well, and if you are running Home and Student, the addition of powerful tools such as Publisher (better than ever) and Outlook (for managing e-mail and calendars) may make the step up to Office 365 worth looking at.

Small or Mid-size business? There are Office options for small and mid-size business that are powerful and compelling, but unless you own a publishing company and manage a number of employees or contractors, it’s not worth the extra cost. (I looked into it in depth. For more info, contact me directly).

For authors: the new Office offers some powerful advanced features and some great organizational tools, but you don’t necessarily need to jump on them right away. If you intend to use more than one device, you like to have the power of the full Office suite mobile, take a look.

You might just find a solution that works well for you.