What I Use: Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium

Picked up a copy of Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium from Office Depot this morning (surprisingly Walmart and Target only had the more expensive, single-use license, non-subscription versions). My first thoughts when I removed the shrink-wrap and opened the box: how much could they have saved if they did not package the product key card in a box. Really? How much did the packaging design add to the cost of the product? Imagine if Xbox Live cards were packaged the same way.  Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I have to say that purchasing Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium is a no-brainer for anyone with multiple devices in their household.

All that is in the box

When you purchase your copy of Office 365 Home Premium, the first thing you’ll notice is that there is no physical media to install the software. That’s right kids, no installation DVD for this version. It’s all in the cloud. The next thing you will notice is that you are now committed to a year subscription in order to use the software. Some people might be a bit hesitant about paying $99 a year (or $9.99 a month), but considering what you get, it’s a value.

Office 365 Home Premium provides a single license that can be shared across five devices, Windows or OS X, that can be activated and deactivated as needed. Also included is 20 GB of storage in SkyDrive (in addition to the 7GB for basic, free SkyDrive account), 60 Skype world minutes per month, and free version upgrades as long as you are a paid subscriber. There is also a new feature called Office on Demand. This nifty feature temporarily installs the Office application (Word, PowerPoint or Excel) that you need at that moment onto any Windows computer you’re using. Once you exit the application, it will automatically uninstall it from that computer. Suddenly, Office 365 Home Premium a great deal.
For some, the new subscription model makes more financial sense than buying single license. It’s less expensive for households with multiple computers. This is especially so if you are a college or university student, faculty or staff member because Office 365 University can be purchased for $79.99 which includes a four-year subscription covering 2 devices. No excuse for a student not to have a copy of Office anymore.

I only have two complaints from my initial experience using it. First, you cannot customize the Office installation on your computer so you get everything. I don’t need/want Outlook, Access or Publisher but it was installed anyway. Second, the 20 GB of storage on SkyDrive is tied to one account and cannot be divided up among other people in the house. Neither is a deal-breaker in any case.

One thing that you have to remember that Office, not Windows, is what makes Microsoft money. Moving Office into a consumer cloud service is just another step to help Microsoft further transform into a devices and services business. Office 365 Home Premium is a great first start.

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