If you are looking to buy Microsoft Office you very much will stumble upon Office 365 and Office 2016. Both give you the Office Apps you want but their offerings are bit different.
Office 2016 is the Office productivity suite sold by Microsoft for an one-time, up-front fee which gets you a license key of the desktop suite which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Office 365 is Microsoft’s newer offering which is a subscription based model in which you pay monthly or yearly to get access to the all latest Office applications for desktop and additional features for online use.
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OFFICE 2016 vs OFFICE 365
Microsoft has been selling the Office suite for almost 30 years now. The business model was and still is very simple you pay an one-time, up-front fee and you get the latest Office 2016 license key. Over the years the way to buy and use the license key has changed, you don’t even need to get the physical disc of Office 2016 anymore, you simple buy a physical “key card” which has a download code on it, or you can buy a digital license and then a download link emailed to you.
This license is limited to a single PC or Mac at a time. If you buy a new desktop you’ll have to deactivate it first from the old computer and then activate it on the new computer. To install and use it on multiple computers you’ll have to buy another license key.
Microsoft’s current Office 2016 offering is “Office 2016 Home & Student” for home users, this package includes
- Word 2016
- Excel 2016
- PowerPoint 2016
- OneNote 2016
The cost of buying the “Office Home & Student 2016” is $150. This is only for either Mac or Windows version. You have to choose either PC or Mac at the time of purchase, if you want for PC and for Mac you’ll have to pay for both i.e. $150 of the PC version and $150 for the Mac version.
You can download and use all these desktop applications included in your “Office 2016 Home & Student” package for as long as you want. The one time up-front fee covers it for life. You will only receive security updates but when Microsoft releases the new version of Office you will not get that version, you’ll have to pay to buy the new version of Office.
Office 2019 has been announced and will be released in the second half of 2018
Microsoft’s newer offering Office 365 is their attempt to make the Office suite more accessible and affordable to everyone. This is how Microsoft wants you to buy Office from now on. Instead of paying a hefty up-front fee you pay for a subscription plan which can be monthly or yearly (yearly is cheaper).
Office 365 gives you access to download and use the latest version of Office.
Office 365 plans gives you access to all the latest desktop applications
With an Office 365 subscription plan you are entitled to get the latest Office version which includes all the current and future feature updates & upgrades. No extra fee has to be paid for this.
There are tons of extra features which are unlocked for Office 365 subscribers if they use any of the Office apps on their phones.
You can subscribe to Office 365 either through your Microsoft account using your credit card or buy codes for Office 365 to activate it in your Microsoft account. If you purchase from Microsoft.com directly you get a one-month free trial on your first purchase so you can choose to try it for one month before paying for the subscription plan. The subscription plan can either be monthly or yearly.
Office 365 has two subscription plans, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home. Both of these have the same features except the number of users per plan.
OFFICE 365 PERSONAL
Office 365 Personal is the subscription plan designed for single person who needs Office applications on a single computer. Office 2016 is the latest right now but as soon as a new version is released Office 365 subscribers will be upgraded to it without any additional fee.
Microsoft charges $7 per month or $70 per year for the “Office 365 Personal” subscription.
Office 365 Personal provides the subscriber with the latest version of
- 1TB Online Storage space in OneDrive
- 60 monthly Skype minutes
As of now Office 2016 being the latest you get access to all the 2016 version of these applications.
The Skype minutes can be used to call any mobile or landline phones from your Skype account from any desktop or device.
Office 365 Personal allows you to install Office on one PC or Mac at a time, plus one tablet.
OFFICE 365 HOME
Office 365 Home is the subscription plan designed for families — who need Office installed on more than one computer at a time. It includes everything the Office 365 Personal includes for up to five people i.e. 5 computers instead of just one.
Microsoft charges $10 per month or $100 per year for the “Office 365 Home” subscription. This comes out to extremely cheap in comparison. So if you have more than 2 people who need Office access on their desktop it is better to subscribe to “Office 365 Home” plan instead of “Office 365 Personal” plan.
This is great if you have flat mates or friends with whom you want to share this subscription plan. One can subscribe for this plan, invite 4 other friends from their Office 365 Admin panel. Each person will see the subscription added in their account and a download link to Office applications which will be activated to their Microsoft account.
Office 365 Home allows you to install Office up to five PCs or Macs at a time, plus five tablets. And up to five Microsoft accounts get 1TB of cloud storage each + five Skype accounts associated to the same Microsoft account can get 60 monthly Skype minutes for each account.
Note : The OneDrive storage cannot be clubbed together to get 5TB on one account, it is made to be 1TB per account. So even if you don’t have filled in all the five allowed user accounts you cannot get any more than 1TB per account.
GETTING OFFICE 2016 or OFFICE 365 FOR CHEAP
Microsoft’s official prices are fixed, plus local taxes are added depending on your country. But as with any online purchase there are discounts and offers. You won’t find any on Microsoft.com but you can find some on Amazon.
Disclaimer : This part contains affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those link(s). Despite the commission the opinions expressed are unbiased and are our own.
There are sellers on Amazon who sell physical key cards for much cheaper prices. Compared to the price on Microsoft.com these are usually cheaper by more than 10%.
They will ship you a physical “key card” which is the official Microsoft packaging. This “key card” has a key to activate the purchased product in your Microsoft account.
For “Office 2016 Home and Student” purchase you can download Office from their office.com and activate with that key
For “Office 365” purchase the key can be used in your Microsoft Account to activate the subscription. These keys can also be used for renewal, so if you already have Office 365 subscription a new key will renew your subscription.
MICROSOFT OFFICE FOR FREE, ALMOST
Microsoft lets you try Office 365 for 1-month. You can download and install the trial version and cancel it before being charged . This will give you all the Office 365 features for the trial period which including the 1TB storage and file syncing features across all devices.
If you just want the desktop versions of Office you can try the Office 365 ProPlus Evaluation copy for 30-days. This is meant for Enterprise users but if they accept your request you get the 30-days free trial.
FREE FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS
Students and Teachers are eligible for Office 365 Education which includes Words, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Microsoft Teams. You can sign up with your school email address here to claim the free Office 365 version.
FREE OFFICE ONLINE
If you can live without the desktop applications from included in the office suite, Microsoft has a free offering for anyone with a Microsoft account. So just go to this link and log in with your Outlook.com/Microsoft account and you will find web version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
This is the direct competition with Google Docs which was a direct competition to Microsoft Office. You get a stripped down Office version in your browser. Some features are missing in these web apps but all the basic and most used features are available. And unlike Google Docs this will generate office-compatible files which anyone can open in Office apps.
FREE OFFICE MOBILE APPS
Just like the web version of Online Office on web, Microsoft has made all the Office Mobile Apps free for anyone to use. These work great to create, edit and open files on the go without having to worry about file compatibility. These too come with minor feature limitations but gets the job done.