Upgrading Microsoft Office. Is Office 365 for you?

Many people feel pressure from other sources to upgrade to the latest version of MS Office.  You may have just purchased a new computer for your home and your old version of Office is missing or may be too old to work on a new computer. With either scenario, you may be looking to buy Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) you should know how the Office game has changed.

Microsoft Office 365 is subscription based. The good news is you can download it right away and it’s cheaper to start. You also get upgrades to newer versions when they come out. The bad news is you will pay more in the long run because you have to pay every year. When you stop paying, it stops working. Another problem is you can’t pick and choose which applications you want. In the past you were able to only install Word or Excel if that’s all you needed. Now you download the whole thing and install it. There is not an option to be found anywhere in the download process. Less choices means it’s easier, but it also means less freedom to choose and more room on your computer.

What are your options?

If you would rather not upgrade and were only upgrading because you can’t open newer files (ie. you have Word 2000 and you want to open a Word 2007 file), there is an easy remedy. Simply install the Office Compatibility Pack.

Other users can still open your files because Office is always backwards compatible (ie. Word 2010 can open Word 2007, 2003 or older files).

If you need a newer version because you are tired of your old one or if your new computer no longer supports your old version, you can still buy a non-subscription version (anything older than 2013) online. Unfortunately, you are not going to find these older versions at a local store or direct from Microsoft. Try Amazon.com or eBay. Just make sure it says “retail box” in the description and it includes the CD.

So who is Office 365 really for?

Businesses or individuals who are dedicated to MS Office and want to use the latest software. If you buy Office every time a new version comes out, the subscription service is definitely for you. If you are buying licenses for a lot of computers it’s also for you. In these cases the subscription service will save you money.

An option for those willing to try something new:

There is also a free version of Office. It’s called OpenOffice.org (it’s also the website). It’s supported by a community of programmers and will open most Microsoft Office documents.  If your needs are simple, I recommend you try it.  It could save you a lot of money in the long run.

Questions, comments, concerns or just need help? Contact me at service@gocomputerace.com.

Howard DeAlvarado owns Computer Ace, a Phoenix based computer repair and services company. He has over 18 years of computer service expertise and is MS & A+ certified. Follow on Google + as well as Twitter.