Microsoft released Office 2013 on Jan. 29; soon after, my inbox was choked with questions about the differences between Office 2013 and Office 365.
The two Offices share the major components — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and (optionally) Outlook — but just about everything else is different.
Buy or rent: Two approaches to acquiring Office
For home users the key difference between Office 365 and standalone Office 2013 comes down to licensing. Here’s what you need to remember:
- As with all previous Offices, when you buy Office 2013, you get a license that effectively lasts forever. (As with most software, you don’t actually own your copy of Office; you buy a license to use that copy.) However, unlike earlier Office versions, that license is valid only on the one machine on which you install Office 2013. If you sell the machine, the license travels with the machine. If the machine dies, or you upgrade to a new computer, you’re SOL.
- When you pay for Office 365 Home Premium, you rent the Office 2013 programs (listed below), and you have to keep paying, year after year, to continue using them.
- The Office 2013 license lets you run one copy of the Office 2013 programs on one computer. Office 365 Home Premium’s license lets you run the Office 2013 programs on up to five PCs (or Macs) in the same household.
(For comparison, an Office 2010 Home and Student license lets you run the suite on three computers within the same household. Each copy of Office 2010 Home and Business and Office 2010 Professional can be run on two systems — essentially a primary PC and a portable device such as a laptop.)
- As in the past, if you purchase Office 2013 and want to upgrade to a newer edition (2014 or 2015 or whatever), you’ll have to buy it. Office 365 subscribers, on the other hand, will get new versions of Office free. (That’s the theory — we haven’t actually seen an upgrade cycle happen yet.)
There are many more minor differences for home/small-business users. Corporate users have all sorts of additional headaches — er, opportunities.
Many choices: What’s in an Office suite?
If you thought keeping track of Windows 7 versions would drive you nuts, Office is probably worse. Office 2010, for example, came in five flavors:
- Starter: a limited-function, ad-supported, free edition often bundled with new systems;
- Home and Student: includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote;
- Home and Business: adds Outlook;
- Professional: adds Publisher and Access;
- Professional Plus: adds InfoPath, SharePoint, and Lync; corporate volume licensing only.
(You can no longer buy Office 2010 from the online Microsoft Store, though it’s still widely available via online retail. Microsoft’s Office Pre-Launch Offer, which expires April 30, 2013, lets anyone who purchases a new copy of Office 2010 after Oct. 19, 2012, get a free upgrade to the 2013 version. The same offer will also give you one free year of Office 365 Home Premium.)