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. 

Look and Feel
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  • Tams80 - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    I agree. White space is badly used. There is a lack of contrast and worst it's painful on the eyes (even using 'dark' modes), which is certainly not helped by the CAPITALS. The menu uses too much screen estate. Then the whole look and feel just feels 'off' to me.
  • Freakie - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I really dig the new student subscription to Office. It does suck that it only lasts a max of 8 years, but picking up new .edu email addresses aren't the most difficult thing in the world... Though were 365 really shines is if your university/business has an Enterprise subscription with Lync. Our university did just that and rolled out Lync to everyone last week and it is POWERFUL. It radically changes how us students can collaborate with each other and our professors and really integrates well with a bunch of devices making it really versatile. It's a huge upgrade for us xP And any university in my opinion.
  • VivekGowri - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Yeah, our university gave everyone Professional Plus with Lync. I dunno how it's going to play out (or even if that many people will upgrade) but it could end up being really awesome in the future.
  • Freakie - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    So far it seems that most on our campus have positive feelings about it. We also switched our webmail over to Office 365 so that was even bigger than adding in Lync, and that's were most of the complaints are coming from. But our University, UC Merced, is less than 10 years old and with all the technology teething pains that have gone on since the school's start, it's not as hard to get people to switch or start using a new system because we're all used to it by now. Plus it's a pretty small campus, so IT's evangelist efforts to get people using Lync don't fall on deaf ears and they don't have nearly as much trouble reaching everyone as larger universities do.
  • steven75 - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    How is it better than other universities that have been using gmail (via Google Apps) with that built in for years now?
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    iCloud looks like iFool on some levels.
  • beginner99 - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I paid less than that price for a bundle with 3 licenses of Office 2010 containing the exact same applications. Just double check and on the shop I use you can actually see it right next to each other, office 2010 with 3 licenses and office 2013 with 1 for exactly the same price. (and I paid less over a year ago for that bundle with 3 licenses than it costs now).

    So basically MS managed to increase the price by 300%....and people don't even mention it in reviews? Even worse:

    " It’s great. If you’ve got 4 or 5 computers to install Office on, $99/year isn’t bad at all"

    With Office 2010 I could get 6 licenses for about double that price. But then I can use them as long as I want not just 1 year. Yes, my bundle is missing Access but then most home users don't need that anyway and also most home users keep an office version for years, I would say 5-10 years is not uncommon.

    Sorry no. They managed to increases price massively and reviewers applaud for it??? Well, will probably switch to libre-office once my 2010 is outdated.
  • A5 - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Um, your prices are way below what nearly all non-academic users paid. You sure you weren't buying the RZR1911 edition?
  • beginner99 - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    No idea what you mean b yRZR1911 but here a link:

    That's $139 for 3 PCs.
  • Arbie - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the link. And A5 owes you an apology.

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