I Need “Office”, What Should I Get? Pros vs Cons, You Decide

Technical Level : Basic
Last updated: July 21, 2019


MS Marketing has done a wonderful job of creating a rather confusing mass of options on what you can "buy" (or rent) and how and where you can buy it, and lots of different prices for the same bundle.


This is my personal take on a decision making process you can follow when trying to figure out which "Office" product you need or want.



To improve the odds that an app will work (and people will like it), help people create a process map. Andy Wolber shows you how.

"What app should we use?" reads the email.

The question appears reasonable. A long paragraph describes some of the people, systems, and processes involved.

Temptingly, the question also seems solvable. The information given allows me to eliminate some solutions. I know of some apps that might work.

Yet, I know my response: "I won't tell you what app to use, but I can help you choose."


Options to Get Office / Buy Office

you will have to make a few decisions:

  1. what type of license you need: "traditional" vs "subscription"
  2. what specific Office bundle you want/need,
  3. how to pay for it


There are more options than just "Office 365" rental / pay-forever "subscriptions" which MS is so strongly promoting.

As I see it you have several options:

  • "Free" MS Office
  • Office "came with" the new computer "for free"
  • MS discount for new computer buyers - (comes and goes)
  • Stand alone Office Programs
  • One-time payment Office 2019 Home and Student / 2019 Home and Business / 2019 Professional
  • Office 365 Home / Personal / University (is no longer offered)
  • Office 365 Education
  • Get a share from someone who has an Office 365 Home subscription ("free")
  • Office 365 Education / Office 2016 for Students and Faculty
  • Recent Graduate Discount
  • Business Office 365, several possible bundles
  • HUP discount - Home Use Program
  • "Office in The Windows Store" aka "Office Hub"
  • MS Office Online
  • Office Pro Plus through Volume License
  • Non Profit license
  • WordPad
  • Work 9.0
  • Free/low cost Office Alternatives
  • Buy a used copy of Office 2010 or 2013 "FPP" / Retail type licenses

You will have to decide for yourself. You can decide to trade off long term cost and features. If your needs are very simple, you won't want to spend much money you may want to work with one of the free options. But if you are a more "advanced" user, using multiple Office applications and sharing documents/files with others you may have to pay for one of the Office 365/2016 bundles.  

Once you go through the process of deciding which bundle you want/need , you have to decide where to buy your Office product key from.  Sometimes the license type defines where you buy it from, sometimes you have to pick from one of the options listed below.

I go into more detail below.


"Free" Office

This June 2018 article summarizes 7 ways you can get Office for "Free".  Unfortunately, only one of them is satisfactory to any degree:


Some of them are repeated in the list below


Options to Get Office / Buy Office

you will have to make a few decisions:

  1. what type of license you need: "traditional" vs "subscription"
  2. what specific Office bundle you want/need,
  3. how to pay for it


 #1 Type of License

MS has split Office into 2 types of licenses:

  • "traditional" 1-time payment license that you can "buy". 
  • subscription license that you keep paying for, forever, by the month or year.

MS defaults to selling 365, but has kept the one-time payment licenses for "old-timers". MS has provided several "features" with the 365 bundles to make them seem more desirable to customers.


#2 Specific Office bundle

MS has split licenses / bundles into “Consumer” and “Business” groups. Basically, if you are using it only for unpaid personal use or learning / education you are a Consumer. If you are using it any sort business, paying or non-profit, you are obviously a Business user. Within those broad categories MS has created many different "bundles" of applications, provided at different prices.


These pages show SOME of the business license options.

https://products.office.com/en-us/buy/office - this page describes the Consumer license options



https://products.office.com/en-us/home-and-business - 2016 Home and Business 1-time payment

https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Office-Professional-2016/productID.323023800 - 2016 Professional 1-time payment


#3 How to Pay for it

You have several  options to buy or rent/subscribe to Office.  See the detailed section below, "I need an Office Product Key, where do I get one?"

Also look at the very bottom of this article to find some tips, tricks and loopholes to give you the best value for your Office 365 subscription money


365 vs 2016 Feature Comparison Summary

Payment Monthly / Annual rent One-time payment

Up to 5 active computers at the same time, "unlimited" installs

1 PC or Mac
Apps Most up to date apps (see next item) Standard applications with feature set defined at general release in Sept 2015
Feature Updates Monthly feature updates No feature update
Upgrade to VNext "Free", part of subscription cost no upgrade to next release, have to buy a whole new license
Cloud 1TB Onedrive per user 5GB Free allocation
Mobile Features Extra features Basic features
Skype 60 minutes per month NA
Support MS Technical and billing help during subscription MS Technical support for install only.  Free support at Answers.microsoft.com, and technet and MSDN forums also

What is Office 365 - YouTube


Published on May 16, 2016

A 24:32 min Office365 webinar for the BC public sector. You'll gain an understanding of exactly what Office365 is including the services and apps included with it.

Options to Consider for Various "Office" bundles types

Office "Came with" the Computer "for Free"

This is a common question. In the home user / "consumer" area there are 2 ways Office "comes with" the computer for free.


The first is many / most Windows computers sold to the general public in retail stores include a 30-day time limited "free trial" of Office 365.  The time limit is started the first time you start any of the Office 365 applications, ie you are "just looking" to see what is on your computer.  After the free trial expires it goes into "limited function mode", basically read only until you uninstall it or pay for an Office 365 subscription.


The other way Office "comes with" the computer is when the builder provides you with a "free" 1 year subscription to Office 365 Personal (1 user, 5 active computers at the same time).


In the past some computers came with a "free" copy of MS Works (a budget version of Office. Later some came non expiring Office Home and Student license. Then for a short while there was free "Office 2010 Starter".  Those "permanent" free offerings are no longer available.


Since early in 2016 some computer builders have been providing this by way of an "Office" icon in the start menu. When you click on it, it asks for an email account (ie Hotmail.com or outlook.com) to register the license to, then "automagically" in the background the icons submits the product key and email to MS for activation.  2 key points to remember First is to use your real email account (it will be a pain if you play it safe and use a "dummy" email) and second is that is a 1-year "subscription". At the end of the year you will have to pay US$69 for Office 365 to continue using it. This is the replacement for the old one-time payment "OEM" type license where you could buy Office installed and activated at the factory with the computer.

.Note 1: if you need to "share" a 365 Home subscription with family, after activating your free 365 Personal subscription you can activate a 365 Home subscription on the same email account to convert the 365 Personal and extend the subscription time by an additional year, ie to 2 years.


Note 2: Activating this "free" 365 Personal subscription if you already have 365 Home on your email account is tricky. When you activate 365 Personal on an email that has 365 Home, the year is added to the current expire date and convert Home to Personal. oops. Not to worry, there is a quick fix. You buy a 365 Home product key and activate it on the same email. This converts your Personal subscription (back) to Home, adding another year. So your expire date will be 2 full years plus what ever time was remaining on the original home subscription, so potentially up to a total of 3 years. You will probably have to redo your shares.



Stand Alone Office Programs

You can buy any of the Office programs individually on a one-time payment license, starting at US$80 and up, depending on the program 

  • you really only use one program ie Word OR Excel
  • If you use 2 or more Office applications you might as well buy an Office 2016 bundle
  • you are going to be in a place without any internet connection for 39 days or more.


https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msca/en_CA/pdp/Word-2016-Non-Commercial/productID.323921800  “Non Commercial” Word



https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/list/categoryID.69404600 - All Standalone applications


Office 2019 Home and Student

When is H&S best suited for you?

When one or more of these conditions is most important to you:

  • If you have only one or two computers (they require separate licenses)
  • You don’t plan to upgrade immediately after new version comes out, ie you are currently happy with an "old" version like Office 97, 2003, 2007 …
  • You don’t need more than the 5GB free allocation of OneDrive space on a free email account
  • You don’t trust the “spyware” / “telemetry“ built into Office 365 that “phones home” to MS
  • you are going to be in a remote location out of network communication where 365 licenses won’t work past 30 days

NOTE:  I've been told by 2 other MVP's that they have been told that Office 2019 now also must have the license validated every 30 days  I still waiting for explicit confirmation from MS.


Office 2019 Home and Business

Yes you may still buy Office 2019 Home and Business. That "and" in the name  should be "or".  It now will install on ONLY one computer. (In 2010 and earlier you could install it on up to 2 computers, ie one at work and the other at "home".)  The suggested retail price is US$230, one time payment.


When is H&B suitable:

  • You are a home or small business user
  • You want Outlook (this is the only extra application compared to Home and Student)
  • You have only 1 computer (or very few)
  • You have no desire to synchronize with multiple devices, specifically tablet/smartphone over the internet
  • You don’t want to pay forever to rent 365 software




Note: One Time Payment vs 365 licenses

If you are going to be in a remote location out of network communication where 365 licenses won’t work past 30 days, then you need to buy one of the one-time payment licenses.


"Buying" / Renting Office 365 Versions

Remember, you do not "buy" Office 365 subscriptions. They are time limited, short time, "rentals", either by the month or year.  Renting by the month is approximately 20% more expensive than yearly.  To make monthly cost effective you have to cancel the subscription for at LEAST 2 months in any 12 month period.


"Consumer" Office 365" Home / Personal / University / Home 365 Military

When is one of the Consumer Office 365 pay-forever “subscription” licenses best suited for you? When you:

  • are NOT a business or non-profit user!
  • you use more than the free 5GB allocation, 365 has 1TB of Onedrive space
  • want to share configurations and files between multiple devices
  • 365 Home allows up to 6 different userIDs (aka people) to "share" one license
  • Each of the userIDs can activate Office on up to 5 computers at the same time, unlimited number of deactivated installs
  • 365 Personal and University allow only 1 userID
  • want to take advantage of the new features as MS releases them (monthly)
    - Ongoing monthly cumulative blog listing new features in Office 365 as they are released to general public.






Office 365 Education / Office 2019 for Students and Faculty


Some schools have signed an agreement to provide Office 365 free or low price to staff and students. Go to the link above and submit your school name to find out if you qualify.


Office 365 Education / Student Advantage - Learn



This is home site for ongoing contact/training/features of Office 365 Education for:

·    School leaders

·    Educators

·    Students

·    Products

·    Training & Events

·    Stories

·    How to Buy

https://products.office.com/en-us/student/office-in-education  - Home Page / FAQ

Check if you can get Microsoft Office for free by trying out your valid school email address at the Office for Students page.

https://products.office.com/en-us/academic/office-365-education-plan#ProplusQuestion – Describes the Education plan and how to get it

https://products.office.com/en-us/academic/office-365-education-plan - Home page

2 versions Office 365 Education: Online apps only and Local Installed “Desktop” version






Migrate to/from 365 Education / 365 Consumer

Depends on which 365 Education you have.  One is Office online only. That is not so hot.  The other includes the "desktop" Office.


If you have the desktop Education, then it may be worth while to get rid of your paid Office.


Office 365 Home/Personal/University are "consumer" versions of Office. 

Office 365 Education is a "business" version of Office.

They use fundamentally different technology for OneDrive and Outlook (even though the names are the same.

Sorry there is no automated or easy to migrate from one to the other. It is a slow, manual process: Open the 2 versions, copy material from one to the other.

Office 365 Education – Signup / Get Started / FAQ

https://products.office.com/en-US/student - Student / Teacher Sign up and Learn more


Links to :

·    Student tutorials Discover more

·    Educator community Join now

·    Training tools, tips  for educators Start learning

365 Education can be Office online or Office installed (on up to 5 devices) depending on the plan the school signs up for.

How to get MS Classroom (pilot name: Class Dashboard)

About to graduate college? Get 50% off a 1-year subscription of Office 365 Personal.Learn more

MS Education Support:


this page is dedicated to supporting teachers using 365 Education. Someone there may be able to provide specific answers

https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses  - Courses range from an estimated 1 hour to 3 hours in time.

Office 365 Education Roadmap


The Education Roadmap is simply a filter applied to the general Office Roadmap.

We’re pleased to share the Office 365 Education Roadmap, which lists updates currently planned for applicable subscribers. Updates for the various stages—from in development to rolling out to customers, to being generally available for applicable customers worldwide—are easily accessible in the Office 365 Roadmap.


Using your school-provided email address at http://office.com/students or http://office.com/teachers  is the quickest, easiest way to get started using free Office tools for your school work.


There could be a number of reasons why you are unable to sign up:

1.    We are not able to verify the email domain you are using

2.    Technical issues caused by various existing user directory configurations

3.    Your school may have turned off the ability for students and teachers to sign up themselves


If the message you receive after a failed attempt is one of the first two – keep checking every week. If your school is restricting student/teacher sign ups, or you don’t have an email address provided to you from your school, you should check with your school to get information on how to proceed.

If you have additional questions you can post them in the Office Applications forum.


Download and Install Office 365 Education for Students

Office 365 Education for Students includes:

·    Azure Rights Management

·    MS Forms (Plan 2)

·    MS Planner

·    Sway

·    Yammer for Academic

·    Office Online for Education

·    SharePoint Plan 1 for EDU

Please use your school email address (Office 365 account) to sign up for free Office via the following link: https://products.office.com/en/student/office-in-education

Once you finish the sign-up, please install Office via this URL: https://portal.office.com/OLS/MySoftware.aspx and then use your Office 365 account to activate it.



It appears that 365 University is no longer being sold. Existing licenses will probably run till they expire. Apparently MS has (dis)"improved" the offer by replacing it with Office 365 Education.


Alternate University Verification - ISIC

As an alternative to .EDU email, you obtain ISIC membership which is also a qualifying criteria for Office University https://www.isic.org/contact/


Office 365 University is a four-year subscription for full- and part-time enrolled university and college students, faculty, and staff in accredited institutions. Alumni of these institutions are ineligible.

After purchasing Office 365 University at a participating retailer, you need to go online to verify your eligibility in order to activate Office. You are also subject to the Microsoft Software License Terms for Office Consumer Subscriptions—Supplement to Microsoft Online Services Agreement and will be required to accept the agreement before activating the product. Internet access is required as the academic verification and redemption process occurs online.


Office 365 University is available in the following countries/regions: Australia**** Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.

Office 365 University will be available in each of the countries/regions listed as the new Office is released in that country/region.


About to graduate? Get 50% off a 1-year subscription of Office 365 Personal.


NOTE: even if you really want to get 365 Home (5 user), TAKE THE OFFER! 

  • Buy the discounted Personal key,
  • Activate it to convert University to Personal, adding the Personal time to remaining University time
  • buy and activate the Home key, extending the current Personal time to Home time (all for 5 users!)


Get a "free share" from Office 365 Home Owner

Office 365 Home allows the license owner to share their "install count" with other people in their family or home (no official MS definition). The limit of up to 5 active computers applies.

Each person person has a separate Outlook account, separate 1TB onedrive space, separate Skype allowance



Business Office 365 Bundles

Or you can rent one of the business Office 365 bundles starting a US$8.25 per month for a yearly subscription that allows you to install on up to PC/Mac 5 computers at the same time (Desktop / tablet / Mac / smartphone

The key point to remember is that you keep paying for 365, forever. You may be able to write it off as a business expense, depending on your local tax laws.


https://support.office.com/en-us/article/What-s-New-and-Improved-in-Office-2016-for-Office-365-95c8d81d-08ba-42c1-914f-bca4603e1426 - Ongoing montly cumulative blog listing new featuers in Office 365 as they are released to general public.



Office HUP, Home Use Program


http://www.microsofthup.com/hupca/faq.aspx?culture=en-CA - HUP FAQ

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/home-use-program/frequently-asked-questions - HUP FAQ

MS has (dis)"improved" the HUP. They now offer a 30% discount on 365 Home in place of the $15 one-time payment license for Office 2019 Pro Plus.


2019 08 10- Discount Office 2019 killed from Home Use Program


Note: it appears that MS has removed one-time payment Office 2019 from the HUP. Carefully check the whole page, in a few cases it is still there, buried at the bottom of the page..

NOTE: since MS has switched to primarily working with online downloads in 365 there is no longer any advantage to paying the extra money for a "backup disk".

  Home Use Program myths debunked

Home Use Program description - http://new.office-watch.com/2009/home-use-program-part-3/

·          https://www.microsofthup.com/hupus/contactus.aspx---click on Customer Support and then Contact Us. There is a Drop Down field at the top to select the country you live in.



Office 365 Home Military / HUP


MS has discontinued the one-time payment HUP. It has been (dis)"improved" by replacing it with a 30% discount on Office 365 Home https://militarycac.com/MSHUP.htm    MS Military HUP page

https://www.microsoft.com/en-US/store/b/military?SilentAuth=1&wa=wsignin1.0  - MS Store military 10% discount

https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/industry-blog/industry/government/military-discount-through-the-home-use-program/    June 2015

<Snip http://www.neowin.net/news/office-2013-now-available-through-microsofts-home-use-program-for-995 >

if you’re in the United States Army it’s as easy as entering your official Army email address (@mail.mil, @us.army.mil, etc.) and then using the code C4FAA257E3. It’s well worth checking out especially at the extremely low price.  </snip>

MAE is only available from Military Post exchanges, is an annual subscription only available to qualifying military members and retirees.




Mobile Office in the Windows Store

MS has released a "new" version of Office that you get through the "Windows Store". This is a "new version" of Office because it had to be re-written to work as a Windows Store app which is significantly different from "traditional" Windows applications.  One of the "features" of this rewrite is that they are now "UWP" (Universal Windows Platform) / "Modern" applications that can run on desktop computers, (non Windows 32/64 bit) tablets, phones and Windows 10s operating system.


I have not had an opportunity to personally test this new version. This article provides some interesting points in it's review of this new version.  (If you disagree with them, please let me know):

Why ‘Office in the Windows Store’ isn’t really Microsoft Office


A trial version version of the Office Hub is available in the "Insider" release for the Aug 2017 "Creator's Update".


As well, there is a "Windows Store" version of the Office applications that is currently (June 2017) limited to install on Window 10S.


Initially this new version will be available to Office 365 Personal / Home / Education Plus and Education E5 customers. After the initial preview/trial it will be available to more Office licenses.

Here are 2 more articles that are basically MS press releases:



http://www.techrepublic.com/article/microsoft-office-full-version-comes-to-windows-10-s-on-surface-laptops/ .

MS Office Online

Or, if your needs are very simple, you may be able to rely on the free "Office Online" version that is associated with your free Hotmail/Outlook.com email account.  The Online apps are simplified (dumbed down / feature limited) versions. In other words, they do not include all of the features the desktop version. But you can open files created on the desktop version without having those unsupported features stripped out.


click on “Get Office” (to buy) or “Sign in” to free Office Online



Office Online (Propaganda page)


This page is one way of accessing Office online. Just sign in, then click on the "Get started for free" button to take to a home page with buttons for all of the Office Online applications you have access to.

What’s the difference between Office 365 and Office 2016 and Office Online? – The “Official” Party line



2019 05 09- Office App- Office Start Menu- Getting Microsoft Office for Free, Sort of


You can get a free MS Store applet simply called "Office". It sits in the Start menu.  It launches Office Online apps in your default browser.

In the Windows store search for “Office”, just that. It is free. The logo is an Office red background with the Office “box” logo in white, approx. ½ the height and Width of the icon.


Instructions To Use Free MS Office Online


The unstated assumption in those instructions is that you have a “MS Account”, a (free) Hotmail/Outlook.com email address you can use to log in to OneDrive.


Microsoft Office for free, yes it’s possible https://office-watch.com/2017/microsoft-office-free-yes-possible/


Office Web Apps - free New name ‘Office Online’ - https://www.office.com/

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps/ - free Office WebApps

·    You Can also access them from inside of your Onedrive/Onedrive account

·    Office 2013 Web apps support both Transitional and Strict ISO Standard Open XML file types.

·     Office 2013 Word Web App also supports editing ODT files, with some limitations: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-sharepoint-online-small-business-help/differences-between-the-opendocument-text-odt-format-and-the-word-docx-format-used-by-word-web-app-HA102252963.aspx


Feature Comparison Office Web apps and the “Full” app

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office-online-help/differences-between-using-a-document-in-the-browser-and-in-word-HA102748596.aspx?CTT=1  - Word




http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office-online-help/feature-support-in-powerpoint-online-HA102748564.aspx?CTT=1  - PowerPoint


http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office-online-help/differences-between-using-a-notebook-in-the-browser-and-in-onenote-HA102748597.aspx?CTT=1– OneNote


Instructions To Use Free MS Office Online


The unstated assumption in those instructions is that you have a “MS Account”, a (free) Hotmail/Outlook.com email address you can use to log in  to OneDrive.

For those of you who don’t want to pay for Microsoft Office, there are plenty of free options for home use. Those normally fall into two categories:  Downloadable office suites like LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and WPS Office or online office suites like Microsoft Office Online or Google Drive.

So which choice is best for you? Well, since they’re all free, you could certainly just give every single one of them a try and pick a favorite. But there are a few things to think about that can help you narrow the field.

·    How many devices do you use?

·    Do you have a constant Internet connection?

·    How much drive space do you have?

·    How much power do you need?



Buy Office Pro Plus through Volume licenses.

You will want to contact a nearby "MS Business partner" to help you make the purchase.  You can search for them through this page:



This page lists the various licensing models you can buy Pro Plus



Office Volume license buying guide:



Pro Plus as part of big business site license:



Note: key point about volume license. The "starter" pack for a volume license is a minimum of 5 licenses.  What they often don't say is that it does not have to be 5 of the same thing.  So you could buy 1 Office Pro Plus, 1 Windows 10 Pro, and 3 of anything else (Hint, find the cheapest item in the catalog. At one time that was an ancient MS Map tool for $5 ...)

This article includes tip on buying a "single" Office volume license:

How to buy PowerPivot 2013, and the $30 Volume Licensing Workaround
February 26, 2013         
You can buy Office 2013 Pro Plus via Volume Licensing. The $30 Volume Licensing Workaround! Everything you’ve read so far would give you the impression that getting a volume license is going to be tough and expensive. It’s actually not.


Non Profits

You can try to get free Non-Profit licenses:



http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/nonprofits/whats-available/available-software/#freeSoft – free software available to them


There is much more info on the above link page (scroll down to the bottom of the page), here is a sample.


Where is Office 365 for Nonprofits available?

Office 365 for Nonprofits will be available in up to 90 countries by July 2014. To see the full list of countries launched to date, please visit www.microsoft.com/office365nonprofits. Scroll down the page and click the Office 365 Availability by Country link.

Or you can use one of the many free or low price "Office Alternatives".  They have applications that are equivalent to what you see in MS Office, but they are independently developed "copies". The names and commands may be slightly different, but they cover most of the functionality of MS Office. Most of them can, for the most part, handle MS Office format files.




If all you are looking for is simple word processing, you can use the free WordPad program that is included with Windows.  I suspect you will be looking for more word processing features plus the other Office appcliations like Excel and maybe PowerPoint and Outlook.


MS Works 9.0

As of Nov 2016, Amazon still has a few copies of Works listed:


You may be able to find it at other sources too (hint google/bing search for it!).


Non-MS Office Alternatives

If you don't like any of the options to get one of the Microsoft Office bundles, you may want to look into "Alternatives" to MS Office. There are a number of free or relatively low cost bundles you can get.  They usually have programs that are similar to some of the programs you get in Office.  They may have a menu or ribbon user interface. They often recreate many of the features in the office programs, but use different command names. They often can open, edit and even create new and old Office file formats.


WordPerfect was the lead product in business word processing in the 1980s until MS came up with the "Office" bundle concept.  You can still get WordPerfect as a standalone or a bundle from Corell for $50 http://www.wordperfect.com/en/product/corel-office-software/


LibreOffice now appears to be the main competitor to MS Office in the "Alternative Suites" market.  It is free and has gone through a number of versions. There is one interesting "quirk" to LibreOffice.  The programs in this bundle can often open and repair "corrupt" files that MS cannot! This is not an absolute fix for corrupt documents, but it is a resource worth trying when you encounter file corruption.

Here are links to some more detailed articles reviewing it.


2019 08 07- 12 Free Word Processors


Best alternative word processor programs to MS Word

2019 06 05- Google Drive Review



2019 06 03- The ONLYOFFICE Suite Offers Collaboration, Cloud Storage, and Choice



ONLYOFFICE is an open source cloud-based productivity suite. It offers a range of tools that can replace many Google G-Suite and Microsoft Office 365 features while providing greater security, collaboration, and choice.

The web-based office suite allows you to create Microsoft Office-compatible documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The applications will feel familiar, as they take cues from modern software design and resemble other software packages.

In this case, you’ll be happy to learn that ONLYOFFICE is available as Software as a Service (SaaS). If you choose this model, the software is licensed to your business, but hosted by ONLYOFFICE and accessible via any web browser.  … Pricing starts at $2 per user per month.


2019 04 12- The 7 Best Microsoft Office Alternatives for Mac Users


If you work in a traditional office environment that runs on Excel and Word, you might have to bite the bullet. But if you’ve outgrown that world and still need to edit and send Office documents every now and then, you have alternative options.

If you’re not ready to buy Microsoft Office, here are your best free Office alternatives for Mac.

  ·        Google Suite

  ·        LibreOffice

  ·        iWork Suite

  ·        Office Online

  ·        Edit Office Documents in Dropbox


2018 11 30- The 10 Best Google Docs Add-Ons for More Professional Documents



2018 03 27- Everything You Need To Know About Getting Started With Google Docs



G Suite, formerly Google Apps for Work



2017 03 14- How to Create, Edit and View Microsoft Word Documents for Free


Word Online, MS Word App (for Andriod & IOS), 365 Home (30 day) Trial, Office Online Chrome extension (requires 365), LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Kingsoft Office, Google Docs, Word Viewer (Win7 and earlier)


2017 03 17- Free Office Suites: Download Or Online? 4 Things To Consider



2017 10 31- Airborn OS – Fully AES encrypted storage


(I haven’t seen any independent reviews of this tool)(I haven't seen independent reviews of this product)


2017 03 05- 5 Alternatives to Windows 10 / Office from Google


Gmail, GoogleDrive, Google Apps (Online), Google Apps for Work, Google Groups


2016 09 21- Ditching Microsoft Office? Tips on how to switch to LibreOffice

Breaking up with Microsoft doesn't have to be difficult if you follow this advice from those in the know.

By Nick Heath | September 21, 2016, 2:52 AM PST



2016 02 16- LibreOffice 5.1: Sweet, subtle, and necessary polish



When LibreOffice 5.0 hit, there were plenty of issues; so much so, that I wound up heading straight back to In fact, LibreOffice 5.0 caused me a number of micro-nightmares with one of my book releases. It wasn't until was released that the fifth iteration of the open source office suite began to settle in and situate itself. And boy did it. The improvements over 4 were massive.



Once again, LibreOffice has worked hard on ensuring interoperability with other platforms. If you attempt to read between these lines, you might assume all the focus for improvement has been on MS Office. Guess what, this time around, the developers of LibreOffice made sure to include a few new import filters in the works.

That is all fine and good, but everyone knows the real focus must be centered around MS Office. Fear not, there were plenty of improvements to interoperability of Microsoft formats (and OOXML as well). Here are the highlights:

  • Export of the modified VBA stream back to binary Microsoft formats and OOXML
  • Improved export of embedded objects to DOCX and PPTX, including export of Math formulas
  • Numerous other improvements to the Microsoft OOXML import and export filters, the Microsoft Office binary file formats and the RTF format.



Other Alternatives


2016 09 03- How to test drive the free OnlyOffice Community Edition server


An Office 365 or Google Docs alternative worth checking out is OnlyOffice. Learn how to use VirtualBox to get the online office suite running at your SMB.


How To Survive Life After Office: The (Former) Microsoft Office User's Guide to Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides


Free download (have to register)

Learn how easy it can be to get your old Microsoft Office work done via Google Drive.

They've taken away your Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint—and replaced them with something called Google Drive (or maybe Google Docs...or is it Google Apps?). After years of using a familiar set of tools for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, your IT staff now expects you to learn a whole new suite of office applications—and they live in your web browser.
Not to worry. Google Drive isn't as different as it seems!
This eBook outlines how you can get all your old Office work done via Google Drive and have a much easier time getting help along the way.


2016 06 15- WPS Office Review: Microsoft Office Without The Pricetag! – Free/Paid – Kingsoft Office – Win / Android / iOS / Linux – Word / Excel and PPT equivalents



Over the past few months, I’ve been on the look-out for an office suite that’s both free and compatible with Microsoft Office files and various Office features, such as Word’s ‘track changes’. There were several strong competitors, including OpenOffice and its sister branch LibreOffice. The suite I eventually settled on, however, was WPS Office, once known as Kingsoft Office.

WPS Office can be downloaded for free, with an upgraded Business edition purchasable either on a yearly or lifetime license. It comes with a word processor, spreadsheet creator, and slideshow presenter. One thing you’ll notice very quickly when using WPS Office is that each element of the suite is inspired heavily by Microsoft Office, down to the presentation of the interface. This means that if you’re more familiar with Microsoft’s handling of menus and buttons, you should be able to get comfortable with it very easily.


NOTE: free version does not support Office file formats …



2016 02 11- Free Microsoft Office Alternatives – 9 alternatives reviewed by About.com


LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Kingsoft Office, Google Drive, Zoho Docs, MS Office Online, OnlyOffice Personal, SoftMaker FreeOffice, SSuite Office,



2016 04 29- FreeOffice 2016 Out Now



Softmaker has released FreeOffice 2016 as an alternative to Microsoft Office.

It has word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs called TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations.

A few notable feature caught our eye:

  • Will run on Windows XP which recent versions of Office for Windows will not.
  • Also a release for Linux but not Mac.
  • EPUB export option to convert documents into something readable on Kindle and other ebook readers.

See the full “What’s New” here.

FreeOffice might be worth considering if you need an extra Office desktop license but don’t want to pay Microsoft any more.   Or you have a Windows XP machine that needs office software:


2016 04 29- “Office365” (Free) to compete with MS Office 365



One of the main differences between Microsoft Office and other suites is the direct cloud connection.  The ability to share documents via cloud storage (usually OneDrive) or sync between your devices.

Enter ‘Office365’ (no space) is based on LibreOffice Online to give you 20GB of cloud storage for document sync.

(Surely the might of Microsoft Legal will descend on the owners of ‘Office365’?  It’s a cheeky name, but won’t last).

What’s interesting about ‘Office365’ (or whatever its eventually called) is talk of private servers.  The developers have plans for software you can install on your computer host your documents privately.   However, you can do that and a lot more already with BTSync.

If Office365 could match OneDrive’s ability to open the same document on different machine simultaneously then it would be a serious competitor.  Great for anyone who doesn’t want their documents available to others in the ‘cloud.

Office365 is currently in beta.


2016 06 02- How to Set Up and Use Open365, an Open Source Alternative to Office 365



Office Resources Page:

Find information about the version of Office 365/2019 you’re considering buying


This page provides a good summary of the features in each Office bundle



2019 01 21- Office 365 ‘Lifetime’ plans are a lie



This article explains how online offers for "Office 365 Lifetime" are totally not valid.  It identifies one specific feature, they need to use the email account they provide, to use this license.  What they are doing is violating the license terms. Bottom line, MS will eventually figure out that these licenses are violating the license terms and MS WILL disable the keys. You will no longer be able to use Office, you will not be able to get a refund from the seller because by that time they will have closed their "business" and moved on to a different name and website.



2019 01 21- Cheap Visio or Project, if you dare


Microsoft Project and Visio are expensive extras to Microsoft Office so it’s tempting to buy cheap versions from sites like Ebay but there are traps for the unwary.

Visio software plans start at $15 a month up to a one-time price of $530 for Visio Professional.  Visio Online only can be had for $5 a month or $60 a year,

Project is even more expensive with software plans from $30 a month or Project Professional for $1,280!  Project Online is $7 a month.

Still, when someone is offering $500 plus of software for under $20 it’s tempting and buyers think it’s worth the risk.


Specific Office 365 vs 201 Bundle Feature Comparison
Choose the Office that’s right for you



What’s the difference between Office 365 and Office 2019 and Office Online? – The “Official” Party line



2018 01 22- Office 365 Global Affordability survey



2018 01 16- Who pays the most for Office 365 Home? And the least



2018 01 16- Office 365 Personal – the cheapest and most expensive across the world



Add 365 Personal to 365 Home to Extend term

If you already have 365 Home, you can use a 365 Personal license to extend the 365 Home license by 9 months.  Click on the (hidden) green “Stay with Office 365 Home” button



Office 365 PRO PLUS evaluation





I need an MS Office Product Key, where do I get one?

You have to buy it ...

Guess what, MS is in BUSINESS to Make MONEY!  They are very good at it (making money!). So you have to buy it, one way or another. MS does not give away very many free copies (other than a trivial number of "promotional" copies, that they write off as a cost of doing business <g> ).

OK, so where can you buy it? Lots of places:

  • physical and online consumer electronics stores where you buy computers
  • physical  and online computer stores
  • online retailers, like Amazon
  • direct from the MS online store
  • direct from the "Windows Store"
  • through your Work Office license using the HJP / "Home Use Program".
  • Military discount program
  • College or University student "Office 365 University" discount program
  • Other schools you may qualify for free (to student) Office 365 Education
  • Buy it at the same time you buy your computer to get a discount / sale price
  • Buy a "used" copy of Office 2010 or 2013 from someone who has "upgraded' to 2016 or 365
  • Get a share from someone who has an Office 365 Home subscription

You can buy it direct from the MS website (make sure you change the location to your country!): https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msca/en_CA/cat/All-Office/categoryID.64516400?icid=Home_EN_SideNav_Office_060116

If you use Office at work, contact your IT department and find out if your shop has the "Home Use Program", HUP.  The company has to buy a certain level of support from MS, and one of the benefits is that users can buy discounted liceses (approx US$10) to install Office at home.

If you are in the military or a veteran, check to see if they have a special deal set up with MS. Often you can buy discounted copies in the base PX.

If you are a student, check with the IT department to find out if they have the Office 365 for Education deal setup to give you a free copy.


If you are a college or university student, check to see if your school qualifies for the Office 365 University bundle discount.


In addition to the "free" copies of Office you may see that "come with" the computer there is another option to get Office "with" the computer. If your new computer does not include a "free" 365 Personal subscription, ask the sales person if MS is offering the sale price for buying Office at the same time as you buy the computer. At various times MS has had a $20 off sale on the price of Office if it is bought in a store with a new computer.  You should check the MS store online to see if the sale is being offered at the time you are buying your computer.


People who bought Retail / FPP licenses of Office 2010 or 2013 (but NOT OEM, PKC, MLK type licences) have the right to sell that license to someone else. They have to provide you with all of the installation disks they have and delete all of their installed copies and backups.


If you know someone in your family or "home" who has an Office 365 Home subscription and who has not used all of their 5 installation counts, they can grant you a "share" of their license.


MS Office 365 Consumer FAQ

Find answers to commonly asked questions about Office and Office 365.


Why Microsoft’s pushing Office subscriptions


http://www.worldstart.com/why-is-software-being-sold-as-a-subscription/ - a generic view on the question, but same answer “MORE MONEY”



$$$ Tips / Tricks / Loopholes to get the most for you Office 365 Subscription Money$$$


2019 05 22:get auto renew bonus month without paying more



2019 03 13- New Office 365 Renewal traps


Some of the Office 365 licenses now sold by vendors like Best Buy are locked in to autorew with the vendor, not MS. You have to make a phone call to the vendor, not MS, to cancel the subscription auto renew.


2018 11 28-More Office 2019 buying scams on Amazon and Ebay



2018 11 26- Save $40 on Office 365 Home renewal plus Office 2019 deals.


This is a good time to renew Office 365 Home with prices about as low as we’ve ever seen them.  It’s possible to save $40 or 40%. There are also some good deals on Office 2019 packages.

The official and automatic renewal price for Office 365 Home in the USA is $100 (well $99.99).  You do NOT have to accept the automatic renewal by Microsoft. Instead buy Office 365 Home from whatever store you choose and apply it to your existing account.   Office 365 renewals can be done any time extending an account for up to five years.

The post-Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales are a good time to grab a saving.  These offers are in the USA only, though you might check your local stores to see if they are doing something similar.

Microsoft is offering a $20 discount on Office 365 Home which seems great until a check of Amazon reveals a $40 discount.

Amazon US

Amazon USA is selling the $99.99 Office 365 Home, 1 year plan for $59.99 with immediate electronic delivery.  Make sure you choose the ‘Download’ option not the ‘by Mail’.

2018 08 16- Protect yourself buying Microsoft Office from Amazon or Ebay



2018 01 03- Office 365 money saving roundup


Read the article for details:

.  *  Don’t buy Direct from Microsoft

.  *  Turn off Auto-Renewal

.  *  Renew separately

.  *  Shop around

.  *  Delay you Renew

Offers to be wary about …..

.  *  Bundling with other programs

.  *  “Free” with computer

.  *  $20 discount on Office 365 Home When Buying Computer


2018 01 02- Microsoft’s annual laziness tax on you – Auto-Renewals


Office 365 annual tribute fee for the Home plan is US$99.99 but you can pay around $75 for renewals.  The difference of around $25 is Microsoft’s Laziness Tax.

It’s the extra you pay for buying direct from Microsoft for Office 365 new and renewals without shopping around for a better price.


2018 01 02- Really stretch your Office 365 Home or Personal plan – Delay Renew


It doesn’t take a lot of effort to stretch up to three extra months out of your Office 365 Home or Personal plan.  In other words, 15 months for the price of 12.

PKC- Office 2013 pricing loophole discounts suite by as much as $40



Subscription price trap


Even the New York Times falls for Microsoft’s spin on Office 2013/365 prices


2017 07 17- Microsoft Office 365 buy or renew cheaper or free



2016 11 22- Your Office 365 about to end? Here’s how to save and get an extra month – free! - Automatic Renewals trap – and how to take advantage of MS.



Read the above article

When you start a 365 subscription, if you enable “auto-renew” you are supposed to get an extra free month.

There is another “trick” feature to take advantage of. If you have a 365 Personal subscription and extend your subscription with a 365 Home product key, your remaining Personal time is added 1:1 to the “new” Home subscription.


<snip 2016 08 01>

Will I get credit for unused time on my current subscription?

Yes, you will be credited for the amount of time you had remaining on your previous subscription. For example, let’s say that you have 6 months remaining on your current Office 365 Personal subscription and you pay for 12 months of Office 365 Home. In this case, you’ll have 18 months of time credited to your new Office 365 Home subscription.

Subscriptions can be extended up to a maximum of 5 years.

For the latest price information for Office 365 Home and Personal, see Choose your Office. For the latest price information for Office 365 University, check the Microsoft Store.


So in theory, if everything works “correctly”:

·    buy a 1 yr 365 Personal subscription

·    Activate it

·    select auto extend to get the extra month

·    immediately “upgrade” and extend it with a 1yr 365 Home subscription

·    turn off the auto renewal before the end of the combined subscription

·    repeat

In theory you should have a 25 month Home subscription for price of 1yr Home plus + 1yr Personal, ie $160 (list price) vs $210


MS Discount for New Computer Buyers - Offer Comes and Goes


MS offers a discount for some new computer buyers. To take advantage of the deal, there are a couple of options.  Ask BEFORE buying your computer. Some stores have periodic offers that gives you a discount if you buy Office along with the computer. Sometimes users can open a special “Get Office” application that is pre-installed in Windows 10 and should be in the Start menu.

For more information see:



There are also various offers that allow you to get Office 365 subscriptions below MS retail price.   Here are a few articles with examples.  These offers tend to be short lived and the terms often change.  One trick to remember is that (so far) Office keys do not "expire". So you can buy more than one key and use it now or later.  For example, MS DOES (for sure) allow you to activate up to 5 years of an Office 365 subscription.  So if you don't have any current 365 subscription time you could buy 5 of the discount keys and activate them all to have a 5 year subscription!

2016 03 30- Buying Office from Amazon - $5-10 Discount + It is cheaper than MS


At amazon, if you pick the snail mail option to deliver the product key, rather than online download/email you get an additional price discount


2016 03 29-  Apple Selling Office – Pay less at Amazon!


ie 365 Personal from Apple $70, from Amazon $54



Amazon Snail Mail Discount


Note: in 2018 MS turned this offer on it's head, now it is (more rationally) offering the discount for the online download.


Forum Article Info

Last updated September 21, 2019 Views 8,865 Applies to:

Rohne, you have hit the nail on the head as this is exactly what I was stumbling over.  I do use Libre Office but the only way I can get the columns to continue from this point forward, seems to be clicking on First Page every time and this is what annoys my publisher.  I have tried other settings in the menu but they all seem either inappropriate or turns the entire manuscript into columns, retroactively from first page to last.

As for the variations of what I can get, this I had also taken up with my publisher as there were so many options to choose from and I didn't know what difference there was between any of them.

Author yes.  Successful no. I am lucky if I sell a book a month (joke book best seller but that is only three a month which as my publisher points out is three more than some of his authors, on top of which education publishing is difficult to break into as one writer in the field, turned self-publisher revealed to me in a personal communication and this is what I need the column software for).

Thanks for the link and everything else as it was precisely what I needed to hear (and already thought mostly anyway).

I just purchased MS 365 Home...the Mac version.  What a mistake. I purchased to make sure I had the skills relevant to find an office job.  First the "Mac version" is so different from the tutorials that I find it difficult to believe I will be competent for any testing required.  I can't tell you how frustrating it is to realize my purpose for buying was not met by Microsoft. 

This is a brilliant article and has so many different routes to enable me to change what I have.   

I really only need Word and Excel so I am frantically reading through the options as I have to decide by the end of this month. Changing will also remove another problem - my outlook.com is very flaky since I bought an annual subscription to Office 365 Home Premium and various experts have said I should have used the outlook in my new Office package and discontinued what I was using.

What I'd like to know now is if I change my package, what will happen to all my documents, files etc? Should I copy them all now and save to a USB stick so that I can transfer them to the new package later? Or will they automatically be transferred if I set up my new package before my old one lapses?

Edited at 06:20 to tidy up

Well done MS Programming Team for yet another problem-free WU. (11 Sept. 2019) Member since 1990 (Windows 3 was my 1st PC) but I had to change my Profile name in 2014 because of a system problem.

Since it appears you want/need 2 or 3 programs the stand alone licenses do not make sense for you. You should go with one of the Office bundles.

If you need outlook, then you want an Office 365 pay-forever subscription or Office 2016 Home and Business one-time payment

If your files are stored on your computer, they belong to you nothing happens to them. 

If they are in a 365 Education OneDrive, then yes you have to move them to some place you control, such as your personal free 5GB onedrive space, or a flash drive.

Nothing happens to the file structure. That is standard Office file format. They can be read/edited by any program that understands the format, even non-ms programs.

Other than 365 Education, 365 subscriptions do not die or lock up immediately at the end of the subscription. There is a grace period. Yes, you should move your files from the onedrive immediately, but you can continue using the old subscription for some time, potentially up to 3 months, before it degrades to read only functionality.

There are 10 kinds of people:
Those who understand binary and
those who don’t.
(hint: geek joke about binary numbers)

Thanks for this. An update - I've uninstalled Home 365 from my other laptop, the back-up one. I won't be doing many documents/spreadsheets on it so in its place I've installed one of the Libre products, Office 5.3.

The Word and Excel products I have on this laptop have far too many features that I will never use so I'm still urgently checking out your suggestions.

Just one final question - would you please point me to the MS article showing their timetable for stopping support for the range of products***? (I had it saved in my Favourites folder but lost it when I had to do a Clean Install two months ago.) 

Edited at 16:46 to add *** or is it just the range of Windows products that is in that  timetable? Will their standalone Word & Excel products always be updated, (although I understand that they will be improved by newer versions.)

Well done MS Programming Team for yet another problem-free WU. (11 Sept. 2019) Member since 1990 (Windows 3 was my 1st PC) but I had to change my Profile name in 2014 because of a system problem.

Here is MS's "LifeCycle" page. Search for your application


There are 10 kinds of people:
Those who understand binary and
those who don’t.
(hint: geek joke about binary numbers)
thank you. At one point I didn't see that I needed the cloud-based storage but having it was a tremendous help after I had to do a Clean Install, that and my File History
Well done MS Programming Team for yet another problem-free WU. (11 Sept. 2019) Member since 1990 (Windows 3 was my 1st PC) but I had to change my Profile name in 2014 because of a system problem.