back to article Microsoft Office 2013 vs. Office 365: Is either right for you?

Now that Microsoft has kicked off its gradual, rolling launch of Office 2013 and the accompanying refresh of the subscription-based Office 365, the time has come to ask the hard questions: Do I upgrade? And if so, which version is right for me? All but lost in all the hype and hoopla over Office 365 Home Premium during Tuesday's …

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Anonymous Coward

Subscribing to a Word Processor?

Don't be daft. Fail.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Subscribing to a Word Processor?

Perhaps, but this is the most useful review / comparison I have read on this topic.

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In this day and age anyone who dosn't at least give something like OPEN OFFICE a go is basically stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

I've tried Open Office. As much as I'd love to use an open source alternative, it's sh!t compared to MS Office. Libre Office is slightly less sh!t.

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Silver badge

I have to agree with the AC - neither OpenOffice nor LibreOffice are any good when working in an educational establishment. The fact that word-counts in the open-source packages are different from the de facto MS Word standard is a serious problem. Worse yet is that pagination, bulleted and numbered lists, and tables will often end up completely screwed in the transfer from open-source to MS Word. I know that this is because MS doesn't implement standards properly, but at the sharp end, when a publication needs to be submitted, these things count.

It pains me to say that I shall keep my venerable Office XP suite going as long as I can, and then bite the bullet and get another version of MS Office when I can no longer continue to do so - unless there is a step-change in the compatibility of the open-source suites with the real industry standard - MS Office.

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FAIL

Open Office 2000

In this day and age anyone who works with large corporations and uses something like OPEN OFFICE is basically stupid.

Try sitting in a client's office who is paying you thousands of dollars per month and then complaining that their PowerPoint isn't displaying properly in your OO Impress. They will wonder why they are paying you.

You can get a DRM-free copy of MS Office 2000 off eBay for $20 and it's superior to any free office suite you can download. You anti-MS zealots may not that like that, but that's the truth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open Office 2000

I'm forced to agree. I've never moved on from Office 97. It does all I want and is actually a better handling drawing package than 2000. Did all the house extension plans with it!

I use OO on the Ubuntu machines, but only for letter writing. Some PP presentations work OK, but not all.

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Anonymous Coward

I gave it a go - it was still shit. I'm sure when I give it a go in another year it will still be shit.

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Anonymous Coward

OO is dire

I've had the (mis) fortune to use MS office products since Word and Excel in the early 90's. Yes there have been some better products, but in business it's all about compatibility and familiarity and despite whatever abuse of their position and other tactics MS are the de facto standard.

Since the late 90's I've tried to use Star Office and all it's successors, including Libre Office, OO....and had a major company grabbed SO 5 sooner than Sun did then it could have gained a much stronger foothold. It was actually a great software and I much preferred it to Office 95 / 97.

Now with IBM's Symphony which is for me a better implementation of OO than anything else plus the myriad of cloudy apps, OO is showing to be a quite amateurish product; some nice ideas and great that so many people dedicate their time to it, but it's not slick enough implementation. Inevitably MS Office will continue for a long while yet in business if they make it run on Android and iOS as well as all their cloudy versions.

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Microsoft is dangling the bait. Should you bite?

NO

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Motive?

Clearly the #1 motive for any business is making money. So when a company is keen to move you to a different way of paying, there can only be one who really benefits.

If you have a copy of Office already, there is little new to act as an incentive to change. The 'cloud' aspect is dubious - all your private data in a US company's hands for a start - which you can already do in a more flexible way with Dropbox and others.

For business use Office is more or less needed to allow document exchange for editing and all of the strange automation that folk have built up over the years. For final documents, you can save as PDF and get a print-final version that just works.

For a family use, and if you really need lots of copies, then OpenOffice / LibreOffice are OK and have PDF save already. Really, why pay for occasional home use for the odd letter or spread sheet calculation?

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fzz

Re: Motive?

The standard response is 'Value'. Yes, you pay more, but think of the added 'value'.

Value was upgrade pricing. No more value from Office.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Motive?

"For business use Office is more or less needed to allow document exchange for editing and all of the strange automation that folk have built up over the years. "

I've written some very useful Excel VBA in the past. Usually for infrequent tasks required by managers/customers that were impossible to process manually in a timely fashion. However there were a couple of times when some rewriting was needed to handle the vagaries of newer versions of Excel.

On enterprise installed versions of MS Office the new versions could be avoided until the rewrite was completed. Something that automatically updated all the enterprise's PCs to a new Excel version would disrupt at least some people in their daily business.

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Re: Motive?

"Clearly the #1 motive for any business is making money. So when a company is keen to move you to a different way of paying, there can only be one who really benefits."

Sure, the company benefits. But that doesn't necessarily mean individual customers suffer. If a price drop of 20% means 50% more sales, cost to the individual consumer goes down, while total revenue for the company goes up. (Yes, I do realise that increased revenue isn't automatically increased profit, if you have to drop unit price to get it).

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Of course a subscription model is going to cost you more.

Delving into pretend price comparisons is meaninless when you assume that everyone is going to upgrade the one-off model at every opportunity. They're not.

Even if you do, I assure you it won't be to the liking of the IT support staff.

They're the poor bastards who have to support a new version, all the new teething problems, all the new interface differences, all the new bugs (er.. features).

Sure, you get real-life Microsoft support on the product, but having been in the game, by far most of the user support issues have been resolved amongst ourselves. Aside from being cheaper, it's faster.

I'm still reelling from the fact that I could run either OpenOffice, or LibreOffice for ALL of my work, AND it helped with corrupt Word or Excel files, why anyone wouldn't do that either.

"Support" is the thing that gets thrown around a lot, and that's certainly a plus if you're actually taking advantage of their "support" - but let's face it, I don't know anyone who's called MS support for their Office Suite for anything other than what they could have worked out by reading the bloody help, let alone use Google.

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Facepalm

Too expensive

They pretty much cracked that nut of word processing and spreadsheets, shesh, dare I say 20+ years ago? I know there's more to Office than that and the UI has certainly improved since then. But, as everybody seems to agree, start with a free option first and then move from there. At work we moved a lot of tasks that we'd normally do in Word to email clients, believe it or not. Email has formatting, spell correction, quoting a parent email, etc. It used to be standard to have everyone have a copy of Office regardless of position, but that's not the case any more. We have just a few copies for those times when we need it in a pinch.

To me, I just feel like Microsoft is just taking users hostage and assuming everybody is going to pony up for the next version. And I'm tired of the CD Keys, online activations, etc. I get it - I'm assumed to be a pirate/thief first and a customer second.

Microsoft should have just included Office with Windows (at maybe a modest fee increase) and not drive consumers away with high costs and convoluted product schemes.

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Facepalm

Re: Too expensive

So the EU and ITC and whoever else can sue Microsoft into the ground for anti competitive behavior?

Oh wait that's right there is no "Competition" to speak of. There's Open Office / Libre Office, but they just don't work with Microsoft Documents, neither does anything on Android, or Google for that matter.

Yeah I know that this is Microsofts' fault, but if I need the "IT JUST WORKS­™" App to get the job done the Office wins hands down that's why I'll continue to cling to my copy of O2k3 for as long as I can.

But, really Microsoft bundling Office into Windows proper? The Magic 8Ball says no....

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Re: Too expensive

"There's Open Office / Libre Office, but they just don't work with Microsoft Documents..."

From the Libre Office web site:

"Compatible with all major competitors' file formats. You can easily import files from Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and many other formats, and can easily save to Microsoft Office and other formats when needed."

That's very true from my own experience. I don't think there is 100% compatibility, heck, there isn't even between versions of Office, but it's pretty good, you should at least try it! If nothing else you would be more educated in your posts.

And, I agree, it's unlikely that MS would include Office in Windows, sadly.

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Re: Too expensive

If you need 3-way track changes in Word or you have an Excel file that auto links to Project or some other homemade ERP system - then get office pro.

But nobody needs to spend 399 quid to write their homework or do a few expenses spreadsheets.

As to upgrades, exactly what do you need to type into a document in 2013 that you didn't need to type in 2000, or 1995? How much would your business suffer if you couldn't adjust the radius of the terminators of the underline lines - or whatever new "feature" they have managed to squeeze into the new release

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Re: Too expensive

Yeah,so 90% of Office docs sent to me by clients are opened and edited without issues using Open office.... so there are plenty of alternatives, as for competition, perhaps not seeing as one you buy, the other is free....... so if anything Open Office and Libre Office should be the ones without competition, not M$ Office

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More to the point ...

... is Whole Foods Markets going to file a lawsuit over the "365" brand name?

Personally, I hope so :-)

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Devil

Re: More to the point ...

Hey, I LOVE to see that fight!

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is Whole Foods Markets going to file a lawsuit over the "365" brand name?

No, because Trade Marks apply only within business sectors in which you operate (and, like 'Office', I would imagine '365' is too generic and widely used anyway). I don't recall Ford (a much more likely candidate) suing Mozilla over their use of Thunderbird.

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Trollface

Re: is Whole Foods Markets going to file a lawsuit over the "365" brand name?

Trade Marks apply only within business sectors in which you operate (and, like 'Office', I would imagine '365' is too generic and widely used anyway). I don't recall Ford (a much more likely candidate) suing Mozilla over their use of Thunderbird.

I always wanted to see Lotus (software) sue Microsoft over the use of the "Excel" name on the grounds that Lotus (cars) had used it already ... the idea just tickled me.

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@Chris Miller (was: Re: is Whole Foods Markets going to file a lawsuit over the "365" brand name?)

"I would imagine '365' is too generic and widely used"

How, exactly, do you explain Apple's "rounded corners"?

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Pint

Office 365 University (without Lync) is $80 US for four years, with a 2 PC + mobile devices limit. There is also three tiers of campus-wide "Office 365 for education." services.

Office 365 is multilingual and has a global reach.

I put this to Slashdot and I think it is worth repeating here. Office 365 targets the clerical worker or professional for whom the MS Office suite is one of the fundamental tools of his trade.

If other members of the family are using the software, it is because they share the same interests and ambitions and are functioning at more or less the same level.

These are not casual users --- and this is not a "Works" market,

The geek still thinks in terms of the stand-alone office suite, not integrated office systems, in which a client like Outlook is only a single component.

He undervalues sites like Office.com. Miles wide and deep in resources.

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Works?

"These are not casual users --- and this is not a "Works" market"

Is this a reference at AppleWorks.. which was discontinued in 2004?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Works?

Da fuq? Obv MS works. The defunct(?) 60buck gimped cousin of office

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Thumb Up

"Office 365 targets the clerical worker or professional for whom the MS Office suite is one of the fundamental tools of his trade."

Absolutely. I use the free suites privately but I need to use MS Office because I am forced to by my customers. Or rather, the customers of my agencies.

Am I going to try and convince them to change their document formats? Sorry, I have better things to do. And, to make the point, NOT losing time on stupid formatting errors enables me to earn money to donate to the cause of my choice. Such as, e.g. LibreOffice, Wikipedia, and so forth.

Sounds like Office 365 is a good choice. I keep up-to-date and I can even install temporary copies on the move. Good. Just a tool, after all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Works?

I think works evolved into "works-suite" which bundled a version of Word with the exisitng works programs which provided the spreadsheet etc ... then they basically ditched that and replaced it with Office Home & Student (probably made a lot of sense to avoid having to develop two products)

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The retail license changed, too

The perpetual license has become less perpetual. Now it's only valid for the first computer it's activated on. It can't be transferred. Period. And unlike previous retail versions, one 2013 license cannot be installed on the same user's desktop and laptop. That would require buying a second license. Ouch. I'm not one to obsess about the up-front cost, but that's a bitter pill to swallow. Someone at Microsoft is doing their very best to discourage the traditional perpetual license scheme.

To the people touting OpenOffice or LibreOffice, you might be surprised if you audited how much of the code is not taking advantage of ASLR and other security features. And last I checked, OpenOffice will try to cram Java down your throat. Nice try, but given Java's security record, that's a non-starter.

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FAIL

Re: The retail license changed, too

> To the people touting OpenOffice or LibreOffice, you might be surprised if you audited how much of the code is not taking advantage of ASLR and other security features.

ASLR is a property of the operating system, not of the application code. On modern Linux and Windows (beginning in Vista) it is on by default, so all applications benefit from it, OpenOffice included. If you use XP or some really old Linux distro, OpenOffice is the least of your security worries...

> And last I checked, OpenOffice will try to cram Java down your throat. Nice try, but given Java's security record, that's a non-starter.

Java security is completely irrelevant in this case. It matters when Java is used as a browser plugin, but not at all when a desktop application (or part of it in the case of OpenOffice) is written in Java. The famous security flaws are related to sandboxing, but in this respect C++ and other traditionally compiled languages (that both MS Office and OpenOffice are written in) have absolutely no protection at all!

In LibreOffice they are gradually getting rid of Java anyway, to make the program less bloated and easier to install. Even OpenOffice can be installed without Java, you just lose some features (I think the database component was the main one. Most office stuff still works).

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Re: The retail license changed, too

ASLR is supported in Vista and later (in Windows). But that doesn't mean all software necessarily opts into that capability, unless you force the issue with something akin to Microsoft EMET.

Further reading on the subject: the U.S. CERT's security shootout between various versions of Microsoft Office and OpenOffice: http://www.cert.org/blogs/certcc/2011/04/office_shootout_microsoft_offi.html The third graph on the page delivers the message pretty clearly. They also cover some other aspects, such as the updating mechanisms. I could remark on some other security aspects, like the ability to specify and enforce MS Office security configurations using Group Policy and Security Configuration Editor, but it would make for a long reply ;)

As for Java security, if a JRE is installed as part of the package, then I see the risk for it to end up enabled in web browsers, which has proven to be a prime attack vector in real life (Flashback botnet on Macs, exploit kit attacks on Windows, etc). I'm not comfortable with having it installed, period.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The retail license changed, too

"The perpetual license has become less perpetual. Now it's only valid for the first computer it's activated on. It can't be transferred. Period. "

So install it in a VM...

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fzz

Who needs Office?

Office 365 Home Premium and Office 2013 Home and Student are for noncommercial use only. Hard to enforce the license terms, but not impossible. So if customers are doing their best to abide by the license terms, it's unlikely they'd be using any Word, Excel or Access advanced features. If that's so, Google Drive may be sufficient, and LibreOffice is certain to provide nearly all users with what they need.

As for commercial use, if you work for a large enterprise with a volume licensing agreement, you can purchase a commercial use license for US$10 (ten!) for each home device. Such licenses would continue as long as you remain employed by that enterprise and it maintains its volume licensing.

Theoretically you'd lose out on the neat new features MSFT would distribute periodically. Just ask the suckers, er, valued customers who bought Windows Vista Ultimate about promised future features.

Who's left? Workplace users of advanced features. From what little I know of legal briefs, nothing has been added to Word in the last decade which has revolutionized lawyers' use. As for people needing to produce technical papers, equation editing is still a toy compared to Lyx and LaTeX. Moving on to Excel, there are always a few new features, but it seems Excel 2013 has finally fubarred the MDI. Meaning anyone with models relying on multiple workbooks (files) open at the same time in the same Excel instance aren't going to be upgrading from Excel 2010 without spending $$$$ on model rewrites.

So, really, who's left? Sycophants with their noses permanently affixed to MSFT's posterior is about all I can think of.

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Re: Who needs Office?

Wait, what? Can't use Office for commercial use? Can you show and prove where MS says you can't use Office for commercial use? I'd be very interested in that.

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Headmaster

@Fill - work on your reading comprehension skills

I mean, it's only the first damn sentence.

"Office 365 Home Premium and Office 2013 Home and Student are for noncommercial use only"

HOME PREMIUM and HOME AND STUDENT.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who needs Office?

Look here:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-office-home-and-student-suite-FX102918374.aspx

Just under the price "Non-commercial use"

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SB
FAIL

Re: Who needs Office?

you are a bit stupid ?

http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/buy/compare-microsoft-office-products-subscription-plans-FX102898564.aspx

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Re: LibreOffice user here

"MS Office documents are proprietary, closed and non-portable, they can only be read on Windows,"

Proprietary - yes.

Closed - didn't they make public details of the file formats (albeit a half-hearted release)?

Non-portable? I cam move them around easily from machine to machine. Don't know what you're talking about.

Can only be read on Windows? So Office doesn't exist for Apple Macs? I can open them on Linux too, using Open Office.

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Re: LibreOffice user here

I get the feeling that you don't like Microsoft very much. I'm not sure where why, it's just something niggling me about your posts that give me that impression...

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Re: LibreOffice user here

The current version of LibreOffice is rubbish. If you want to get proper work done then you use Office. I personally think Office 2010/2013 & Sharepoint is fantastic. It's true that 2013 is only an incremental update to the excellent 2010 suite, but the best just got better IMO (been using it since it was available on TechNet).

Everyone seems to bang on about the cost, but at work our licenses will allow all of my 55,000 users to upgrade from 2010 to 2013 so it's certainly not costing any more money. The only cost will be the local divisional Admin's time if they choose to upgrade to 2013.

And in my home I'll definitely be subscribing. I have 5 machines at home, just sold my two Home & Student versions (3 licenses each) of Office 2010 for a combined cost of about £110 which more than covers the cost of a 1 years subscription. And when it comes to renew this time next year £79.99 is hardly a big deal.

I just hope MS pull their finger out with the Mac version. Whilst I don't have any issues with the performance of Office 2011, I have major complaints about the horrendous UI.

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@Steve78

Sold your Office licenses? Are you allowed to do that?

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Re: @Steve78

Regarding the ones I sold, I am talking about my personal ones at home (2 x Office 2010 - 3 license home user)

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Re: @Steve78

I got that, but is the transfer of licenses even allowed by Microsoft?

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Re: @Steve78

Don't know & don't really care if it's allowed or not. For years I've always sold personal MS software as soon as a new version is released. Never fail to get a great price for my 'old' software...

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Re: @Steve78

>>> I got that, but is the transfer of licenses even allowed by Microsoft?

It is, but only once. The licence agreement (Office 2010 but I think it's similar in all version) says:

"20. TRANSFER TO A THIRD PARTY. The first user of the software may make a one-time transfer of the software and this agreement, by transferring the genuine proof of license directly to a third party. The first user must remove the software before transferring it separately from the licensed device. The first user may not retain any copies of the software. Before any permitted transfer, the other party must agree that this agreement applies to the transfer and use of the software. If the software is an upgrade, any transfer must also include all prior versions of the software."

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Gav
WTF?

Re: LibreOffice user here

"who needs MS Office these days, when people don't use Windows so much?"

I see you belong to the "if I say it often enough it starts to become true" school of discussion.

What are you basing your statement that people don't use Windows so much on? A dream you had?

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Exchange documents?

Who uses office to exchange documents? If the text is not in the body of the email I usually get PDF's. If I get a Word document at all it's because some clueless has dropped an image or screenshot into it before emailing the whole thing. Excel, maybe a few, but not so much as back in the day.

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