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Subscribing vs. Buying: The Microsoft Office Dilemma

Subscribing vs. Buying: The Microsoft Office Dilemma

Posted by TEAM ASCEND on 8/30/16 12:00 AM

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Still using Microsoft Office 2007? 

If you haven’t purchased a new version of Office in a while, let me fill you in on what’s changed since your last software update: Microsoft decided to join the software subscription craze and launched their Office version with a subscription model dubbed Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 works the same as the previous version of Office, but it offers users real-time software updates. 

If you have a disdain for software subscriptions, don’t panic: 365 isn’t your only option. A regular one-time-purchase version of Microsoft Office 2016 is available.

Unsure if a Microsoft Office subscription or a purchase of Office makes the most sense? Let’s break down the differences between Office 365 and Office 2016 to make the decision easier. 


While you might be quick to write off the subscription model (I would be, too), it might be the cheaper option - depending on the size of your business.

The one-time-purchase Office 2016 has two business versions to choose from: Home & Business and Professional. Office 2016 Home & Business will set you back $230 per license, while Office 2016 Professional (which includes Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Access) will cost $400 per license.

If you are looking to upgrade many computers at once, going with the perpetual (one-time-purchase) license will be a pricey investment.

On the other side of things, Office 365 Business costs $8.25 per month for each user (qualified nonprofit organizations can receive Office 365 at a discount or even for free).

All in all, you’ll be spending around $99 a year per license/user. At that price, you have just over two years of the subscription before you’re paying more than the one-time-purchase Office 2016 Home & Business option.

Winner: Draw. Office 365 is a winner for those who frequently update their version of Office or need to install Office on a large number of computers without breaking the bank. However, Office 2016 may be more cost-effective in the long run for organizations that will be holding onto the same version of Office for many years to come.


Microsoft certainly is pushing Office 365 over Office 2016; aside from the frequency of payment, what’s different between the two?

The big difference between Office 365 and Office 2016 is that every new feature or version of Office released in the future will be updated in Office 365 at no extra charge. This means that when Office 2020 is inevitably announced, Office 365 will be upgraded to that version automatically. Office 365 eliminates outdated software, which is a big draw for those who hate the cycle of updating all their computers with the latest edition of Office every few years.

Another plus in the Office 365 column is that it’s accessible through other devices. With 365 you can start a document on your computer and easily access it on your phone, tablet or another computer later on. Much like Google Drive, the ability to work across all of your devices makes it easy to get work done just about anywhere. Unfortunately, Office 2016 isn’t afforded the same cross-platform feature.

The features don’t end there: Office 365 includes 1TB of Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage per user as well as free technical support. Office 2016 doesn’t include any cloud storage and only has free technical support for installs.

Winner: Office 365.


While Office 2016 may initially be more appealing when the alternative is a subscription, it lacks the features and support of Office 365. If you are a small business with only a handful of computers to update, don’t update to new versions of software frequently, and only tend to use the basic office functions (i.e. Word, Excel and PowerPoint), then Office 2016 could be a better option.

If your business is a bit larger and Microsoft Office is an important aspect of your employee’s daily work, then you may want to consider 365. Added bonus: with 365 you won’t need to worry about upgrading Office ever again, as Microsoft will handle all of the updates for you.

Which version of Office would you buy?

Written by Tyler Smith

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Posted in Microsoft, IT Tips