Microsoft 365 Buying Guide: Which Office Version Should You Buy?

Contents

  • >How to get Microsoft Office on your PC
  • >Which version of Microsoft Office do you have?
  • >Will Windows 11 come with Microsoft Office?
  • >Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365)
  • >Microsoft 365 – Family vs Personal
  • >Office 365 Education – Free options for students
  • >Office Home and Student 2019
  • >Microsoft Office 2021
  • >Microsoft 365 Business
  • >Upcoming price rises

The term \’Microsoft Office\’ has become synonymous with productivity in recent years, with the likes of Word, Excel and PowerPoint among the most successful and recognisable programs in the world.

While historically these could be downloaded with a one-off purchase from the Microsoft website, the release of Office 365 in 2011 muddied the waters. Since then, you have been able to subscribe to all the Office apps for a regular monthly fee, as opposed to having to buy each new version when it\’s released.

Office 365 was rebranded to Microsoft 365 on 21 April 2020, to reflect the growing number of features that are exclusive to its subscribers. However, the main selling points of the service remain the same: unlimited access to Microsoft Office apps and free cloud storage via OneDrive. 

However, there are a myriad of different Microsoft 365 subscriptions to choose from, so it can be difficult to know which to choose. Depending on your usage, it may in fact work better to buy a one-off version of Microsoft Office. 

Office 2019 was the most recent version, although Microsoft has said it will release Office 2021 at some point this year. The big thing you\’re missing out on is new feature updates, as well as integration with the cloud via OneDrive. Microsoft 365 subscribers typically get monthly updates. 

Find out more about Office 2019 and how it differs from Microsoft 365 throughout this article.

How to get Microsoft Office on your PC

In years gone by, the best (and only) way to get Office was to buy a CD-ROM for a one-off price and install it onto your PC or laptop. These days that would be a bit of a faff, with many laptops not even having disc drives anymore, but it was one way to ensure you had a physical backup.

Nowadays, Office is available as a download, but you can either buy it outright with a one time purchase, or as a monthly subscription. There are advantages to either options.

Any Microsoft product under the ‘365’ umbrella is subscription-based, referring to the number of days in a year. Any Microsoft product without ‘365’ in its name is likely to be a one-time purchase – good if you only want to pay once, but you won’t be able to upgrade the software with online updates like you can with 365 subscriptions. 

There are also several different versions of Office available, and you should choose the best one for you depending on your needs. It\’s worth noting that while this buying guide covers every platform, Mac users might want to take a look at the specific Office for Mac buying guide on our sister site Macworld.

First, we\’ll break down Office options if you are buying for personal home or student use, and then go on to the options if you are buying it for work or use within a small business.

Microsoft 365 Business

Microsoft also offers business-minded versions of its software. We\’re focusing on the options for small businesses here, but Microsoft also offers Enterprise plans for larger companies. Once again, there\’s a split between the 365 subscription packages and the one-off purchase version of Office 2019.

There are three main versions of Microsoft 365 Business available, each offering very different software packages, so make sure you pick the right one. Be especially mindful about Microsoft 365 Business Basic (from £3.80/$5), which doesn\’t actually include desktop versions of the core Office software like Word and Excel, but just Microsoft\’s online and cloud tools.

Also note the Microsoft 365 Apps for business plan (£7.90/US$8.25 per user per month) includes both desktop and mobile version of the apps but without the other productivity tools such as email, calendaring and team conference features.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

  • One licence for 5 PCs/Macs plus 5 tablets and 5 phones per user
  • 1TB cloud storage per user
  • Allows up to 300 users
  • Ongoing access to updates
  • Desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, OneDrive
  • Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint

You can also sign up for a 1-month free trial in the UK and the US.

UK: £9.40 per user per month
US: $12.50 per user per month

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

  • For 5 PCs/Macs plus 5 tablets and 5 phones per user
  • 1TB cloud storage per user
  • Allows up to 300 users
  • Email hosting with 50GB mailbox and custom domain address
  • Ongoing access to updates
  • Desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access
  • Access to OneDrive, Exchange, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Yammer, Skype for Business
  • Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook

You can also get a free trial for the Premium version in the UK and US.

UK: £15.10 per user per month
US: $20 per per user per month

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

  • 1TB cloud storage per user
  • Email hosting with 50GB mailbox and custom domain address
  • Allows up to 300 users
  • Ongoing access to updates
  • Video conferencing with up to 250 people
  • OneDrive, Exchange, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Yammer, Skype for Business
  • Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote

UK: £3.80 per user per month (annual plan)
US: $5 per user per month (annual plan)

Microsoft 365 Apps for business

  • For 5 PCs/Macs plus 5 tablets and 5 phones per user
  • 1TB cloud storage per user
  • Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and OneDrive
  • Ongoing access to updates
  • Allows up to 300 users

UK: £7.90 per user per month (annual plan)
US: $8.25 per user per month (annual plan)

Upcoming price rises

Microsoft has announced that the prices of some of its commercial and business-focused plans will increase on 1 March 2022. In an official blog post, Microsoft 365 Corporate VP Jared Spataro says the new pricing \”reflects the increased value we have delivered to our customers over the past 10 years\”. It\’s the first hike we\’ve seen since Microsoft 365 launched as Office 365 in 2011 – the likes of Teams, OneDrive, To-Do and Sharepoint have all been added since then.

Here are the changes you can expect:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic – from $5 to $6 per user
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium – from $20 to $22
  • Office 365 E1 – from $8 to $10
  • Office 365 E3 – from $20 to $23
  • Office 365 E5 – from $35 to $38
  • Microsoft 365 E3 – from $32 to $36

Potential price rises outside the US are yet to be confirmed, but expect them to be similar. We\’ll update this article once we know more.

Related articles for further reading

  • Office 365 is now Microsoft 365 – all you need to know
  • Do students get Office 365 for free?
  • How to get Microsoft Word for free
  • How to get Microsoft Excel for free
  • How to get Microsoft PowerPoint for free

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like these