Another view on Office 365 subscriptions

We hear from an Office 365 supporter.

We’re received a good note from Office Watch reader Randy H …

We need to keep in mind when discussing the ‘cost’ of Office 365 that the monthly subscription (rental) includes 5 complete, always current, sets of OfficePro.

My Office 365 Enterprise subscription costs $24 per month. ($288/yr.) I use it on 5 computers so, if I upgraded Office on all my machines every three years at $250(?) each that works out to about $1,250. $1,250-$864 ($288×3) =$386 so any one taking full advantage of O365 is money ahead; particularly now that multiple users can share one subscription. (The Outlook Exchange feature is also a great feature for those used to it!)

Keep up the fine work …. Randy …

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Certainly the calculations about buying vs renting Office are difficult – and that’s quite deliberate by Microsoft.

The current rental prices might not apply in the future. More likely, there’ll be a rearrangement of the packages offered that will result in increased revenue for Microsoft. After all, that’s what the company has done over the years of one-off Office sales.

While it’s true that Office 365 rental software is ‘always current’ that’s not necessarily a good thing. Updates to Office aren’t always appreciated by users — ask anyone who dislikes the ribbon. Sometimes features are dropped from Office or changed in unwanted ways. In these cases customers might rightly prefer to stay with the software they have and not any ‘improvement’ forced on them.

In addition, there’s been cases where Microsoft has abruptly removed a feature from Office. That happened in 2010 when Microsoft lost a patent case. Redmond decided to withdraw the feature from Word 2007 and Word 2003 rather than pay the patent owner. In that circumstance it caused minimal disruption but update streaming to Office 365 subscribers changes the situation. A future case might see Microsoft pushing an update removing a feature in Office.

Our main aim is to make people aware of the Office 365 rental downsides as a balance against the marketing push by Microsoft and the mostly uncritical media coverage. We’re not telling people what to do, rather helping them make a more informed decision.