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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  • N4g4rok - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Just being in the article doesn't imply that it's fact. He's entitled to his opinion, as are you. No reason to continue the use of the phrase 'fanboi.' It gets nothing accomplished.
  • CaedenV - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    While $100/year for 5 machines is not bad, I do not have 5 machines. In fact I use to have 3 machines at home, 2 desktops and 1 laptop, but our new Lumia 920s have replaced the need for the laptop and it has sat unused for the last 2 months that we have had our phones, so we will likely get rid of it before long.

    In the past I have upgraded Office Home every 2 generations (~6 years), which breaks down to ~$12.50 per year per machine for 2 machines, which is an easy pill to swallow. I understand that I am getting a lot more out of the new package, but $50/year/machine (because I am not going to buy more computers just for the sake of having them) is a bit on the insane side of things.

    I played with the beta, and loved everything about it except for the lack of a dark color theme (easier on the eyes at night), but unless they come out with a 2 machine $40 install or 3 machine $60 install option then there is just no way I will buy it. That would already be a major increase in the amount of money MS would be getting out of me for Office, and my usage would not be all that different than it currently is, so it would not me that much extra effort for MS to invest in supporting me as a user

    I hardly feel like openoffice is an adequate replacement for MS Office... but then again it is free yet capable, while this new office demands a lot more money out of me.
  • CaedenV - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    OK, so I have a MS account, and my wife has a MS account, and my kiddos have MS accounts (though it will be a few years before they actually use them). We have 2 computers in the house; My machine, and my wife's machine. Lets say that I purchase Office 365 for the family, which allows us to install office on our 2 machines, and on up to 3 supposed future machines.

    So the loaded question: Who gets the 20GB skydrive?
    Do I get the 20GB skydrive and then have the 'privlage' of purchasing it for the other 3 in the family (an added cost of $30/yr)?
    Do we all get extended skydrive accts?
    What happens to data on skydrive if your account were to lapse? Is the data just gone? or do you get it back if you pay for the acct again within a certain number of days?
  • N4g4rok - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    The microsoft account used to purchase the software gets the extra storage. If you'd like to share that storage, you can set up a shared folder in your Skydrive for them to connect to.

    I THINK that you get warning messages to move some of your files if your storage shrinks for some reason. That's only from something i vaguely remember reading though.
  • Galvin - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I tried office 2013 excel. But there is so much WHITE, that after a while it just hurts your eyes. Not sure how anyone could spend long periods of time using their horrible UI.

    Its funny how people are saying modern UI that looks like the 1980s is a step. heh
  • tk11 - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    "I’ve always been a fan of the ribbons, which I thought were a good idea in Office 2007 but really came into their own with Office 2010. It’s been six years since they debuted, so anyone that is still complaining about Ribbon UI should really get over it"

    Why would anyone write this knowing full well that the ribbon interface is so widely loathed. You must have been looking to offend a decent chunk of your readers. If so then good job. If you want to voice an opinion that's fine but I'd much rather hear the reason that you hold that opinion rather than simply stating it then rudely suggesting that I fall in line.

    I could just as easily tell you that even after all this time that the ribbon still sucks so you should get over your preference.
  • N4g4rok - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    "Why would anyone write this knowing full well that the ribbon interface is so widely loathed."

    I can't personally see that as being a reason not to express an opinion about something. Even if a majority of office users despise the ribbon, it wouldn't make them "correct" about the matter, nor should it suppress opposing views.
  • colonelpepper - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    It destroys the authors integrity, and reveals him as a Microsoft Shill. The "article" reads like nothing more than a Microsoft Sponsored Story. It degrades the integrity of

    Lastly, flagrantly pushing moronic opinions like "It’s been six years since they debuted, so anyone that is still complaining about Ribbon UI should really get over it" is totally clueless how to reach out to people through journalism.

    ...but then again this Microsoft Sponsored Story is not journalism at all.
  • cjl - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Wait - everyone who likes the ribbon UI is a microsoft shill, and therefore sponsored by Microsoft?

    I was not informed of this - who should I contact at microsoft to get my payment?
  • N4g4rok - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    I agree that it's brash on his part, but you cannot insist that any positive feedback towards a Microsoft product is a marketing ploy. Nor does siding with Microsoft make his point invalid. There's no place in a debate for the implication that all positive feedback that doesn't mesh with an opposing personal bias is immediate evidence for foul play.

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