Office 365 : Buy Or Rent MS Office

Software Subscription : The Future Of Software Delivery

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Recently my colleague and fellow blogger, Sonja setup my Office365 work account. After a few minutes of information overload (yes, even us developers are vulnerable to that too!) I decided to settle down, research and acquire a thorough understanding of Office 365, and most importantly understand why I need it my life, and I must say the results were startling!

One of biggest pain points of Microsoft Office products over the many years it has been around, has been the high licence fees, which undoubtedly has been a huge barrier to access, especially here in Africa, and has resulted in a serious and thriving underground industry of software piracy. The second pain-point has also been the challenge to keep up with newer versions off Office which are introduced at least once every 2 years. Now with Office 365, these 2 issues are now a thing of the past!!
Office 365 is a an example of what is termed Software as a Service (Saas). Leading US research firm Gartner defines Saas as follows :

Software as a Service is  software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.

Therefore, it follows then that, with Office 365, you rent the software by paying a monthly subscription fee, instead of owning the software outright via purchasing it out of the box. Office 365 is also primarily accessed from your web browser, as opposed to installing it from a cd or dvd, a custom we have known for many years. For South Africa, the Office 365 packages available for most users are :

Office365

 

Pros

  • For very affordable price (just under R100/month under Office 365 Home), you get access to online versions of Microsoft’s leading Office products, plus downloadable offline full versions of the same software too. The best part of it, is that, for that very price, you can install or access the software from 5 PCs.
  • Under the same subscription, through the latest changes to the Office365 offering, you can now install mobile versions of the Office products, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, One Note & Outlook, on up to 5 tablets (Android or iOS)
  • By purchasing an Office365 subscription, you automatically get 1TB of online storage on OneDrive, giving you the ability to automatically back-up all your digital content to the cloud, and also access it from any of your Office365 linked devices.
  • Other subtle advantage include the fact that, as long as you remain subscribed to Office365, you automatically get access to the latest versions of Office products and security updates and patches.

Cons

  • You need to keep paying the monthly subscription fee to enjoy the benefits of Office365. The moment you stop paying, you immediately lose access to the software.
  • Because Office365 is built on a different model of software delivery, you may not get the sense that you own the software and that you have installed it from a cd or dvd. This may be quite an issue with some people.
  • Office365 works best when good internet connectivity is available. Hence you may experience performance issues when using Office365 in no-so-great internet connectivity environments. In such cases, a boxed, offline version of Office would be much better hands-down.

Conclusion

At end of the day, your own individual needs and circumstances are a huge factor in deciding whether Office365 would work for you, or perhaps you would still prefer the old-fashioned way. My recommendation, is that you give Office365 a try, via a 30-day trial offering available here and see if you find the offering compelling!

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