We’ve been working with Microsoft's new version of Office, Office 365 Home Premium Edition, for a few days now and for the most part, really like it.
Microsoft officially released it on Tuesday.
As usual, we have some gripes, too. Before we get to that, let’s start with why, despite its drawbacks, you should buy it.
No. 1. It’s a good value. Office 365 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote and Outlook. The Home Premium version costs $99 a year and this covers up to five PCs and/or Macs in your house. No, it doesn’t fully work with iPads, yet, although you work with documents on the iPad or iPhone over the Internet in your browser. Only the OneNote note-taking app is available as an iOS app.
Alternatively, you can buy a “perpetual license” for more money which will install the software on only one PC, same as you’ve always done. That version is called Office 2013.
If your family uses multiple devices, Macs and PCs, Office 365 is a good deal.
No. 2. With the subscription plan, you’ll never have to upgrade your software again. Microsoft promises that new features will come to Office 365 users faster, and download automatically, as Microsoft upgrades the suite, compared to buying the software the old fashioned way.
No. 3. You aren’t stuck. If you cancel the subscription, all your files will be fine, Microsoft says. You can view and print them, but to you'll have to use Microsoft's free service, SkyDrive.
You can also edit them with freebie open source alternatives like LibreOffice or OpenOffice, although they won't preserve all the formatting (like some edit tracking features.)
No. 4. You can collaborate on documents with others, in real time, even if your co-workers don’t have this version of Office installed on their machines. Others can fire up their browsers and work on the document via the freebie software in SkyDrive.
No. 5. You can share the software but not your cloud storage. Everyone logs onto their own SkyDrive accounts. So your files don’t need to mix with your kid’s files. You can also store your files on the PC and not send them to the cloud.
No. 6. You can work when the Internet is down. Office 365 will sync to the cloud when the Internet comes back up.
No. 7. You get 60 minutes of Skype time a month, too. This covers long distance or using Skype with regular phone numbers.
As for flaws, we found a few of those, too.
- Like all Microsoft software, it’s not intuitive. We spent a lot of time with the help files to learn the new features.
- The software is often slow when working directly with SkyDrive (instead of on your local computer and syncing to SkyDrive).
- Many of the controls are too tiny and awkward to use with a Windows 8 touchscreen device. They are still designed for a mouse.
There are lots of cool new features in each individual application. Check out our more detailed review.
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