Windows and Office. It’s a duo that has made up the core of Microsoft’s business since before I was born, and remains the cornerstone upon which the rest of the company is built. And so it has gone, for as long as I can remember: with each new version of Windows, a refreshed edition of Office to go along with it. 



This year, we’ve got Office 2013. We’ve obviously had some experience with it in Windows RT form, and I spent a fair amount of time using the Office 15 Consumer Preview last year (in fact, I wrote my Masters thesis in Word 2013 Preview). In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty major change, with the biggest probably being the move towards a subscription-based model, though you can still buy Office in a traditional retail boxed edition with a standalone license. There are four different options for the standalone version of Office 2013: Home & Student (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, $139.99), Home & Business (adds Outlook, $219.99), Professional (adds Publisher and Access, $399.99), and a volume-channel only Professional Plus with InfoPath and Lync for large businesses. 



The interesting part is Office 365, which involves paying on a yearly basis for multi-device licensing and cloud storage. It’s worth clarifying the naming scheme here: Office 2013 refers to the latest version of the Office suite, while Office 365 refers to a subscription service that provides Office 2013 applications. Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University both come with the same set of programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access) along with 20GB of SkyDrive storage, 60 Skype minutes, and multiple device installations (5 for 365HP, 2 for 365U). It’s a pretty sleek system, with all of Microsoft’s cloud services leveraged to provide a seamless experience. Obviously, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing cloud-based document storage and backup, but the SkyDrive integration in Office 365 is much deeper than we’ve seen in the past. 

Now, with a subscription model, pricing is obviously key. I think Home Premium’s yearly $99.99 fee is a bit ambitious, but the University edition at $79.99 for four years is actually a pretty great deal. The only downer with 365U is that it only has support for two device installs, as opposed to five with Home Premium, but that’s the price you pay for getting an 80% discount. A university ID is, naturally, required at the time of purchase. (Thank god that most of my friends are still undergrads.)

Office 2013 - Consumer Editions
Variants Office 365 Home Premium Office 365 University Office Home and Student 2013
Price $99.99 $79.99 $139.99
Subscription Time 1 year 4 years -
Device Installs 5 2 1
SkyDrive Storage Free + 20GB Free + 20GB Free (7GB)
Skype World Calling 60 mins 60 mins -
Office Programs Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote

Let’s focus on Home Premium for now, as it’s the version that we’re testing and also the most relevant consumer product in the entire Office 2013/365 lineup. At $99/year, it offers a lot of value if you’re planning on using it on 4-5 devices, but if you’re only putting it on one or two devices, that sounds a bit steep. If it were in the $50-80 per year range with two or three licenses included and additional device installs available for $10 each or so, that’d be much easier. This also eliminates the problem for users wanting to install it on more than 5 computers. As presently constituted, to get more than 5 device installs, you need to buy another Office 365 subscription using a different Microsoft ID. With a typical family of four, it’s not even that difficult to think of having more than 5 computers, even if my occupation makes my household collection of computers a bit of an exception. Basically, it’d be nice to see a bit more flexibility in the plan with regards to the number of licenses available, along with this being reflected in the pricing scheme. 


Setup is painless, with a simple executable (or .dmg for Mac installs) downloaded after creating or signing in with a Microsoft ID and entering your serial number. There is no DVD-based install, that has been retired in favor of purely digital distribution. The awesome thing here is that you can start using Office applications almost immediately, with many of the installation tasks being pushed to the background. Compared to the lengthy Office installs of old, this is a vast improvement. 

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  • colonelpepper - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    this "article" is so obviously an advertisement... what an embarassment for anandtech.

    shame on you guys
    ..and on all the microsoft shills polluting this comment section.

    what a friggin embarrassmet Anandtech. UNBELIEVABLE
  • ggathagan - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    As opposed to everything you've written.
    By your standard, you are a LibreOffice 'shill'.

    As others have stated, the fact that Vivek happens to like the features of Office 2013 doesn't make him a shill, any more than your opinions make you a LibreOffice shill.

    You may not have noticed, but there's no one with a gun to your head demanding that you use any MS product.
    Feel free to live your entire life without a single MS product in your home.
    That's the beauty of choice
  • versesuvius - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Why pay all that money, when you can keep all that money. Open office is not as pretty, depending on one's moods and tastes of course, but it is ten times more reliable and in the long run more productive than any MS Office n-1.
  • mechBgon - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    ...exploitable, maybe. CERT's security shootout, have a look at the third chart:

    Quality code, for a premium price. Choose your preference, I guess.

    That said, I would probably get Office 2010 over Office 2013 at this point, since Office 2013 licenses can't be transferred to one's next PC. That's right, it's like an OEM Windows license, irrevocably licensed to the first PC you activate it on. And if you want to use it on your desktop and your laptop/tablet, Office 2013 requires you to buy a second license, whereas Office 2010 doesn't.

    It appears to me that Microsoft is purposely poisoning Office 2013 with these licensing shens to get more people onto the subscription model.
  • versesuvius - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    I will not argue with that test, but my own experience is somewhat different. Apache Open office is in 3.4 version now and keeps getting better. In Europe, many governments and city authorities have adopted Open Office since its early versions (before Oracle and Apache), and that shows that the crash problems and productivity then were much more in favor of Open Office and with the latest improvements the situation has not changed much. Anyway for small business and individuals,if not with enterprises, Open Office makes a compelling case. After all 30,000,000 downloads for Apache Open Office alone is bound to make it a more viable platform every day. And again, it is free.
  • mechBgon - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    You mean, the _up-front cost_ is free. How about the TCO? Microsoft has some compelling advantages there. Installation, security, updating, auditing, and configuration enforcement are all centrally manageable with Group Policy, WSUS, and MBSA, among other tools.

    It certainly beats hand-installing and hand-configuring a thousand workstations, wondering if the employees have altered the security configuration, wondering if they're up-to-date, and knowing that you had to allow Admin rights to update the software. Over the course of a 3-5 year lifecycle, which one's really cheaper? And how much does a security breach cost?

    Then there's Open Office's deplorable inclusion of a Java Runtime Environment by default. If they were deliberately attempting to create a security liability, that's a great opening move.
  • versesuvius - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    Very few open source software updates like paid software. The reason for that is simply the fact that updating automatically requires an online server or actually many servers, which costs money. The free software only gives you a notification and the update is usually a download and an install into the same directory. But that does not mean that updating many installation has to be done manually. It can be done automatically through scripts or other methods. As I said governments in Europe have adopted Open Office since many years ago and they are very likely to have security as a high priority on their list. Anyway, all that you mention can be done through either OS services, with Linux being very good at it, or through scripts which any serious enterprise easily has the resources available for and in place already. An interesting point is that contrary to what you say, when it comes to thousands of installations the first time installation make the cost of Open Office almost the same as MS Office. (I remember in a European city, Microsoft's bid was lower than Open Office's, but the city went ahead with Open Office anyways). After that it is almost free with Open Office and permanently very costly with MS Office. I remember Microsoft at a time was offering the entire office suite for 3 dollars in China. It was done to combat piracy, but the end result is the same. It is the long run profits that Microsoft makes that is important to the company, not the initial payment.
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    ...for a lot of users. I think you really covered that. You'd think they'd want to get everyone on the MS teet, suckling that Office goodness in a subscription they'd get for years and years to come. Just like you said, getting us to pay for more and more devices to have access.

    Instead, they're like confused about what they want to do. On the one hand, they want to charge the same as they always do for the single license, no subscription. And on the other, they want TONS of money from subscriptions, charging an insane amount for a year's worth of use of something. If they'd shave $10 off per copy that I wouldn't use on devices, let me decide how many devices i need to have access to the subscription, then this would be a great deal for me.

    Otherwise, I don't think they get who their competition really is. Sure, they're competing with Google Docs, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc. But that's not the real competition they should be afraid of.

    They should be afraid of everyone who has Office 2010/2007 who is looking at this and shrugging. Most of what 2013 offers in Skydrive functionality that ordinary users would appreciate can be duplicated by changing your FREE Skydrive account to look at your documents folder. And for anyone who had Skydrive before it was Skydrive, they have not 7 GB, but 25 GB already. I'd imagine quite a few of THOSE users already have Office 2010.

    So... by pricing this in the stratosphere, they've killed any and all impulse buying of this product.

    As far as I can tell from this "review," the only other real reason to get this is if you have a Touch device. How many x86 computers out there based on touch will be used via touch enough to make an Office built around touch worthwhile? How big is that audience?
  • flensr - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    No subscription for me, no way. I got office 2007 student edition back in 2007, for under $100 if I recall correctly. I'm still using it, 5 years later and have no reason to upgrade. I know how to use it, it's compatible with everything I need to do.

    A subscription would be a total ripoff for me and my family. I'm just not going to do it.
  • benedict - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    So Vivek graduated and got a job at Microsoft. Grats!

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