If you’re looking to upgrade, you have to decide whether the traditional desktop version of Office is the way to go, or if Office 365 is a better fit for your needs.
Office 365 plans start on per month basis. Small businesses can get access to Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync in addition to the core Office productivity applications for only a little more per month. Larger businesses that want to take advantage of Active Directory integration can do so again for a small additional cost per user per month.
Breaking those down, it takes more than three years to reach the levels of a traditional off the shelf desktop version.
2. Updates and Maintenance
What else do you get with your Office 365 subscription? An IT department. Sure, you can set up your own Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Lync infrastructure. You can manage and maintain the desktop Microsoft Office software, and install the patches and updates every month yourself. How much will that cost?
Consider that implementing the same capabilities in-house requires servers, and network infrastructure, and IT personnel to install, manage, update, and maintain it all. Plus, you still have to buy and maintain the Office software itself.
With Office 365, Microsoft takes care of all the dirty work so you don’t have to. Updates, patches, and upgrades just happen in the background without you needing to worry about it. When the server crashes, its Microsoft’s problem. When a hard drive needs to be replaced, Microsoft will handle it. You get the benefits of using Office without any of the headaches of updating and maintaining it all.
Office 365 lives in the cloud. That means you have access to Word, Excel, Outlook, and other Microsoft Office tools from anywhere you can get a Web connection, and from virtually any device–Windows or Mac desktops and laptops, Android devices, iPhones, iPads, and other smartphones and tablets. Office Web Apps provide basic features and functions for free.
This isn’t quite the selling point it once was for a couple reasons. First, even with the desktop Office 2013 suite Microsoft is pushing users to save files to the cloud-based SkyDrive, or to a SharePoint server by default. So, there’s no reason the data can’t be accessible regardless of whether you choose Office 2013 or Office 365.
The second reason it may not be all that compelling is that Office Web Apps are already available for free from the SkyDrive site. So, even without Office 365 users can create, view, and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files from the Web.
For businesses, though, SharePoint, Active Directory, and other elements of Office 365 that go beyond simply creating and editing Office documents still make Office 365 a better value.
Your mileage will vary of course. There are a number of factors involved in calculating the cost of purchasing, installing, configuring, updating, and maintaining Microsoft Office and the accompanying back-end services versus the ongoing subscription costs associated with Office 365. Office 365 is a solid service providing tremendous bang for the buck, though, so it won’t be easy to beat the value it brings to the table.
Need help with Office 365? Choose MBM.