by Ruben Naicker

OPINION

Choosing the right Microsoft Office product to suit your needs

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Microsoft Office is the most widely used productivity software packages in the world, and is available in several different versions for different users. For consumers, however, these different suites can cause confusion. Do you need Home and Student, Home and Business or the Professional edition? Or would Office 365 suit your needs better?

Not having a clear understanding of the differences between these suites and what each of them offers can lead to an incorrect purchase. This creates unnecessary frustration and expense, as users may need to purchase additional products to get the solution they need. Choosing the correct Microsoft Office solution will ensure you get the appropriate solution for your needs, with the best combination of value for money and functionality.



How many users and devices do you need a solution for?


This is the first question users should answer before purchasing an Office software package, as the various solutions cater to different numbers of users and devices. Office Home and Student and Professional editions are single device licenses, meaning that each package can only be installed on a single computer. For multiple devices, one license will have to be purchased for each device. Office Home and Business edition offers a license for one user for one device. Office 365 Personal offers a single user license that is valid for two devices - one PC or Mac and one tablet, including iPad. For a single user with more than one device, this is the most cost effective solution. Office 365 Home is a household license valid for five PC or Mac devices as well as up to five tablets, while Office 365 University is aimed at students, valid for two devices, be it a combination of either PCs, Macs or tablets.



What applications do you need?


The different versions of Microsoft Office also come with different combinations of applications. Office Home and Student includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, but does not include Outlook. Users who require Outlook in addition to the core Microsoft applications will need to purchase Office Home and Business. Office Professional includes all of these applications as well as Publisher, which can be used to design and create newsletters and brochures, and Access, allowing users to create desktop databases. The different packages of Office 365 include all of the applications of Office Professional, with the exception of Publisher and Access, which are not available when Office 365 is installed on Apple devices. Personal and Home versions are aimed at home users, while University is only available for students.



What operating system am I running?


Microsoft Office Home and Student, Home and Business and Professional editions are only compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you are running a Mac device, you will need to purchase Office for Mac, which is available in Home and Student and Home and Business editions. Alternatively, Mac users can make use of Office 365 Home, which is compatible with up to five devices on both Windows and Mac Operating Systems (OS) plus up to five tablets, including iPad.



To sum it up


Microsoft Office Home and Student is best suited for users who want the basic Office suite on a single PC for the family. Home and Business is best suited for users who want the basic Office suite, plus Outlook. These products are also available in Office for Mac versions for Apple users. Microsoft Office Professional is for those who need the basic Office suite, Outlook, Access and Publisher giving the ability to create marketing material on a single PC.



Microsoft Office 365 for consumers is available as follows: Personal, Home and University. Office 365 Personal is available for a single user on one PC or Mac as well as one tablet. Office 365 Home is best for families that want all Office functionality on up to five PCs or Mac and five tablets, plus easy access on smartphones. Both are available with a one-year license, either as a single payment or a monthly fee. Office 365 University is best for students who want Office on up to two devices – PCs, Macs or tablets. It is available as a four-year subscription at a special discounted rate, either up front or per month. All of the consumer versions of Office 365 now also include 60 Skype world minutes per month, which enable users to call landlines in 48 countries. All Office 365 solutions also offer 1 Terabyte (TB) of OneDrive cloud storage, which can be accessed on all connected devices as well as Android smartphones and iPhones, so important documents and applications are not lost even if the physical device is damaged, lost or stolen.



Understanding your needs, and the features available on each version of Microsoft Office can help to alleviate the confusion around purchasing this vital software tool. By answering these three questions and matching your needs to the Office product best suited to your situation will ensure that users get exactly what they need without frustration or added expense.

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