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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Subscribing to a Word Processor?

    Don't be daft. Fail.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Subscribing to a Word Processor?

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

  2. Paul0987

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    2. BillG

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  3. adnim

    Microsoft is dangling the bait. Should you bite?


  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge


    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?

    1. 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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    3. Graham 24

      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).

  5. John Tserkezis

    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.

  6. Fill

    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.

    1. Michael Habel

      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....

      1. Fill

        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.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          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

      2. ddean1968

        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

  7. jake Silver badge

    More to the point ...

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

    Personally, I hope so :-)

    1. beep54

      Re: More to the point ...

      Hey, I LOVE to see that fight!

    2. Chris Miller

      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.

      1. dajames

        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.

      2. jake Silver badge

        @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"?

  8. westlake

    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 Miles wide and deep in resources.

    1. Fill


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

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Works?

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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)

    2. Eenymeeny
      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.

  9. mechBgon

    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.

    1. MacroRodent

      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).

      1. mechBgon

        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: 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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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...

  10. 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.

    1. Fill

      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.

      1. Bumpy Cat

        @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"


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who needs Office?

        Look here:

        Just under the price "Non-commercial use"

      3. SB

        Re: Who needs Office?

        you are a bit stupid ?

  11. Magnus_Pym

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Exchange documents?

      Try working in an office, anywhere

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Exchange documents?

        Yes ... standard email exchange goes

        Manager: "Can you send me some slides of your result to put in my report"

        Me: "Ok, here's the current status"

        Manager: "Thanks, here's the full set I'm using - any comments"

        This works well if we're all using (the same version of) Office. Doesn't work well if it ends with

        Manager: "I imported your slides and the formatting is all over the place so I've just spent 30 mins sorting it out"

        Freetard: "Well I wrote them in <insert-free-software-office-name> because I refuse to use anything from Microsoft and I don't see why you should make me"


    Office 365, a warning from a user...

    ... Office 365 isn't completely compatible with Office 2013. In fact in my tests it was about as compatible as Libre Office.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Steve78

      Re: Office 365, a warning from a user...

      What a poor post. Can you elaborate or explain just what compatibility issues there are? (I haven't found any).

    3. karakalWitchOfTheWest
      Thumb Down

      Re: Office 365, a warning from a user...

      What? I haven't had the same experience. It is just exactly the same...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I missing something

    The $140 is a perpetual, one device license. Multiplying that by 5, or $700, is what is required to compare it to a 365 subscription that is good for 5 devices.

  14. eot8857


    The problem with subscription services is that the price is only good at the moment you pay; there is no guarantee that Microsoft will retain the $99 price point. Once they have moved everyone to subscriptions, they will have the ability to charge anything they wish. Businesses are so entrenched with MS Office that they cannot afford to migrate their Access DBs and multi-product documents (Excel embedded into a Word document and placed on a PowerPoint slide), so they will simply pay the higher cost. Take heed, users - today it is Office 365; tomorrow it will be Windows 365.

    No one really wants to work on a large document on a phone or small tablet. Larger tablets offer a usable remote desktop, already allowing you to work on your documents on your work machine, so the added benefits of using Office365 on portables are questionable, at best. While we're on the topic, one should also consider the amount of data being thrown around. With today's cell carriers becoming more tight-fisted about data usage, working on a large document over and over could theoretically push you over your data limit and incur more charges on your cell bill, since the documents are stored 'in the cloud'. Inefficient users who throw uncompressed bmp images into PowerPoint will be in for a shock, as I have seen our users toss about 400-600MB files. Open those a few times to work on them, and you may exceed the carrier's 5GB limit really fast.

    Microsoft would do well to offer Office365 in the form of "You may use it free of charge for X hours each month." This would ensure Word continues to dominate the market, but fairly charge the corporate users who use Office extensively - without punishing the home users.

  15. Dave Bell

    Open Office gives me sufficient access to the MS Office formats

    I have been getting a few documents from lawyers as MS Office files.

    I can load them fine into Open Office.

    I am pretty sure that they are a couple of MS Office versions behind the bleeding edge, maybe more if you want to count the new release.

    Format compatibility is important enough in the real world that businesses are not going to rush to install the new version. With such things as court cases spanning several years of documents, lawyers need to be able to handle quite old documents. PDF is useful for that.

    What I have seen, support for digital signing might be one feature that makes a difference, but looking the what the UK government says about how it can be done, we would have to purchase digital certificates. The web-of-trust approach that developed through PGP seems to have been ignored, although everyone seems willing to accept ink-squiggles without any real checking.

  16. Potemkine Silver badge

    MS is pushing us to get rid of MS-Office

    MS strategy is counter-productive for us, a SMB. It doesn't feed our needs, users are lost between versions, and it's more and more expensive. Sorry, as a company of 50, we do not have 20,000 € to throw in MS pockets every 3 years just to get a word processor and a spreadsheet application, which are our basic needs.

    MS pushes us more and more to get rid of MS-Office, and look at alternative solutions. The next update regarding Office could well be a migration.

    1. bitmap animal
      Thumb Up

      Re: MS is pushing us to get rid of MS-Office

      Same here in our business of 20ish users. For us Office 2003 is great, it does everything we need, works with Exchange server and new licences can be found at quite reasonable prices on your favourite auction site.

      We run a few copies of Libre Office alongside as that does some things better but overall MS Office is slicker for the majority of users.

  17. mastodon't

    Damn you microsoft

    Damn you all to hell.

  18. The Original Steve

    Forgetting something?

    Hate to burst the bubble here, but the business options include include Lync, SharePoint and Exchange hosting.

    Not just Office - add in server side and CAL costs and it looks more reasonable.

  19. Steve K

    What about Addins?

    How would Office365 work with Addins (e.g. in an Enterprise scenario) if nothing is permanently installed to your PC?

    There are many ERP/EPM solutions that integrate Excel/Office with back-end systems (SAP/Oracle/Hyperion etc.) - if your installation is piped out of the cloud (and maintained/patched there), then presumably it won't.

    (To be fair, Oracle were pretty slow getting 2010 support out there...)

    I imagine this would be resolved by a split implementation of Office 365/2013 if corporates were going to take the bait. Having said that, a lot of corporates (in my experience) who have only just started rolling out Office 2010 anyway..


    1. Steve78

      Re: What about Addins?

      If you use 365 everything is installed locally

  20. Jim Willsher

    Where are we?

    El Reg - please quit the CHECK and MOM crap. This is theregister.CO.UK - the UK bit should give it away. If you have Yanks writing the articles, please ask them to write for their target audience.

    'Nuff said. Downvote here we come.

    1. Ken Darling

      Re: Where are we?

      @Jim - "quit the CHECK and MOM crap"

      I'd upvote you 100 times if I could; It's just lazy journalism. The register is going downhill - rather that a port-of-call for IT related news, it's becoming more like TMZ every week.

      And what is it with Yanks and their aversion to propositions. "Out on BluRay Monday" WTF is a BluRay Monday?

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: Where are we?

        "WTF is a BluRay Monday?"

        Its a High Definition Monday, which seems like a waste, I'd rather have a High Definition Saturday and Sunday

  21. Fuzz

    Buying office for the home

    Who buys office at full price for home use?

    If you've got kids who need to do their school work then you can get full pro license for office for peanuts (I think the UK price is currently £30).

    If your place of work has a subscription to office then you can get office on a cheap deal

    If you can't get either of these then Google Docs is pretty good, the online version of office is pretty good, if you must have a program you can use offline then libre office or will do the job.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Buying office for the home

      My thoughts exactly. I got full copy of 2010 for £20. £10 for the licence, £10 for the disk. My wife got offered the same deal. Since we can install it on 3 machines each, that's 6 PC's for £30 (you only need 1 disk). We only have 2 PC's so we only paid for the one licence.

      At that price you might as well not bother with the open source stuff.

      Oh, and we gave the previous version to the inlaws.

    2. Winkypop Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Buying office for the home


      Just bought MS Office 2013 Pro Plus on a home use program for less than US $15.00


  22. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Constant updates

    Is there an off switch or are Microsoft really oblivious of the "don't update the package while I'm mid-task just in case it breaks everything" rule?

  23. sad_loser

    if you are going to get in bed with the devil

    wouldn't google be cheaper -would be interested in a direct independent comparison.

    but not as cheap as libre office + dropbox.

  24. Mark 65


    "Once the subscription Office apps are loaded, they also require almost zero administration. Not only are bug fixes and security patches applied automatically, but even major new features can be streamed from Redmond's servers without user intervention.

    For IT managers, this could be a godsend. No more installing new versions of Office onto hundreds of desktops every three years. No more pushing out Service Packs and patches. Instead, you install Office 365 once, and from there on out, the applications keep themselves up to date."

    Great. Now what if those bug fixes break something? What IT manager desires a desktop SOE out of their control? A shite one in my opinion though I guess some wouldn't give a toss.

    As for the Microsoft puff about updates coming regularly but only for 365 subscribers I'll believe it when I see it. Large corporates have a way of getting the deal they want out of MS when there's big $$$ involved. Let's not forget it's these people that are really keeping the Office boat afloat, everyone else can use Libre Office.

    1. Test Man

      Re: Christ

      You can specify if updates are installed. It's clear from the screenshot. So no issue here, and you can stop your rant now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Christ

        "You can specify if updates are installed. It's clear from the screenshot. So no issue here, and you can stop your rant now."

        Great! But are UPDATES turned on by default?

        I'm thinking of novice everyday users who will probably leave updates on if they're turned on by default! Does Microsoft have a solid enough record at implementing automated unassisted updaters? It depends on your view.

        Personally, after a quarter century in IT I can see this going pear shaped akin to Virus Checker updates when the UPDATER is interrupted by: A the user hard resetting the computer unaware of an active updater in the background, or B. the laptop loses power unexpectedly.... Both of these can leave system protection in an unknown state!

        The question is, can Office recover from these types of update problems?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Christ

      Yes, form experience of other web-based services (Google docs, Facebook, etc) they can and will change things with bugger-all regard for your existing work-flow, preferences and requirements for compatibility.

      Though it pains me to say it (as a penguin-lover) one of the key advantages of windows in an enterprise environment is the ease of centrally managing updates and system settings, and this looks like breaking that.

      Anyone from Mozilla/LibraOffice/Ubuntu who is listening? Please look in to tools for managing large installations!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups?

      I like unknowns, don't you? Especially unknowns from MS, it adds lots of surprises to my day! It ASSUMES that the UPDATE process will be flawless and without any botches. Some questions :-

      #1. What if 'something' crashes as the update is being silently done in the background? Is it possible the Office version will then be in an unknown, buggy or incomplete state? If yes, what then? I've got lots of T-shirts that say my Virus Checker updater just crashed, so my security is now in an unknown state! It always takes more than a few hours of manual file copying, reg editing and hacks to fix these types of problem! Anything from Symantec was the absolute worst!

      #2. Or what if the user hard resets the machine at the time of the update, or the laptop loses all power because the user drained every last drop from a depleted battery?

      #3. This bit that I find warm and fuzzy is the feature being touted by MS that you can install a temporary copy of office at an internet cafe for one time use. Sounds super! ...In theory! In practice net cafe machines are often abominations of stability. I can see Office crashing unexpectedly. Since its a one time use install, does that mean I have to wait all over again to re-download and re-install at maybe a slow net cafe? What's the download footprint like in general? Will I be prevented from running the installer a second time on the same net cafe box?! If so I may need to wait while another spot opens after a customer leaves which would be a pain! Mmmh, I think I'd rather bring Office 2000 on a USB with the Office 2007 compatible pack for docx. Methinks its more likely to work reliably because net cafe boxes around the world are often old!

  25. The FunkeyGibbon

    Getting away from Office

    Does anybody have any stories they'd like to share that cover changing from MS Office to an alternative. Not just individuals but whole companies? I'd be interested to see just how painful it is but also how much can be saved.

    I think about where I work and the various Excel add-ins that run their financial systems and can't see them ever changing.

    Also the lack of real advertising for alternatives hurts the sector. I bet if I went to each department head and said 'Libre Office' or 'OpenOffice' they'd say "WTF?"

    1. karakalWitchOfTheWest

      Re: Getting away from Office

      Yep. I assisted a few companies in changing from MS Office to LibreOffice. First thing is to put a stop to custom business-solutions in Excel sheets. You won't believe how much stuff is done in Excel.

      If you have covered the most important business processes in business software (either individual developed solutions or standard packages) the switch itself is painless.

      You want save that much in shortterm: You can dump your license costs, but you have to do more support...

      A bonus for some users is the old interface of LibreOffice via the new Office interface..

      But you have to listen very carefully to your users. Some are heavily invested in Office, mostly powerusers, and you can't convience them to change...

      For the normal office drone it is more or less the same and it works after a few weeks of more frequent support calls...

      You have to convience management, because they believe, they have support from microsoft if the buy Office, but if you read the EULA, there is practically no support at all and no guarantees...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Getting away from Office

        "Yep. I assisted a few companies in changing from MS Office to LibreOffice. First thing is to put a stop to custom business-solutions in Excel sheets"

        Nice try PUTTING A STOP to banks, insurance companies etc.. you'd alienate the majority of the financial services industry...

      2. dajames

        Re: Getting away from Office

        I assisted a few companies in changing from MS Office to LibreOffice. First thing is to put a stop to custom business-solutions in Excel sheets. You won't believe how much stuff is done in Excel.

        Excel is a great little grid control -- printable, too -- and it's easier to embed your application in Excel than it is to embed Excel in your application!

        That's Microsoft's fault, of course. You might almost think they'd planned it that way ...

    2. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Getting away from Office

      Yup - about 12 users, mainly using spreadsheets and text documents. No third party add-ins.

      For files which are just on the server locally we now use LibreOffice, having also tried Star Office and OpenOffice before that. Dumped various versions of MS Office from 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007 to go to a standard platform.

      Conversion between formats is always the problem, once a document is standardised in the new format it works fine. This happened previously between versions of XLS files as well, many requiring a round trip through ODF to get them working again!

      For files which are better shared continuously we have moved those into Google Docs. This totals about a dozen files for 10 users and after 18 months have not regretted it for a second.

      Some of these files are linked to each other so needed to change all in one go, but it wasn't difficult.

      Savings? No more money wasted on office software every time we got a new computer. No more time wasted every time a spreadsheet crashed.

      You may call it cheap, we call it Yorkshire Thrift.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just got me to retry OpenOffice/Libreoffice

    This article has just prompted me to try Libreoffice 3.6. For OpenOffice, even to 3.2, the spreadsheet side (Calc) is horrible eg for creating charts among other things - too many clicks and presses and pop-up windows and it felt too much like you could see the programmer. But LO seems to have removed a good number of the OOo annoyances and it has more of the shortcuts and keyboard tricks like Excel.

    So in comparison to the last time I tried it, this version of Calc now feels productive, as if you could actually use it for serious work (though it's still a pity you can't set colours or fonts on the charting without diving into a "Format Selection" window). Time for some more in depth testing methinks.

  27. 404

    The Rent is Too Damn High!

    For companies with up to 100 employees, Microsoft is out of it's freaking mind. This is not a boom, bubble, or economic recovery, hell the US economy contracted last quarter, this is not good. They ask too much.

    Seriously, I can grab the latest copy of Word Perfect Office for about $29... WP has always been good.


  28. karakalWitchOfTheWest

    I have bitten...

    I have bought the subscription yesterday and I think it is great value.

    I have used Open/Libre-Office a lot over the years, even installed it on many PCs of friends and family, but it is just not as good as Office. Yes, I can do all the work in Writer, but I prefer to do it in Word. Excel 2013 just looks so much better than Calc.

    And I like the price. It is 10€/month here and for that I can use it on our 2PCs, 1 Win Laptop and 1 Macbook without any additional costs...

    I have tried it extensively over the last few months and I am hooked. It looks better than any version of Office before and it works - at least for me - better than any previous version...

  29. Peter Jones 2

    Banging on about Libre/OpenOffice wont cut it...

    The majority of offices us MS Office. They send documents to other people and those people need to be able to see them correctly. LO and OO don't do that. For a simple "home user" test on a document or spreadsheet, they can handle it. But an accounting spreadsheet with macros, or a long complex document? Forget it.

    MS have created a monopoly. Is it the best software? No. Does it do the job? Yes. Their format won. And so the first thing LO and OO should do to have any chance of widespread corporate acceptance is to match the MS format exactly, in every case.

    Everyone always gives MS shit about not following the XML or HTML format when the majority of people use them as written. And that is absolutely fine. MS are the minority there, they should follow the spec.

    But in the corporate world, the MS document specs are the de facto standard. And so LO and OO should follow them. Because everytime I see a document formatting issue crop up, it's someone opening an MS document wondering why LO or OO has a problem with it.

    Get the formatting right first, then add proper useful features. That will make LO/OO viable. Until then, they aren't going to be accepted in the business world in the numbers you want.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Banging on about Libre/OpenOffice wont cut it...

      Just because one format is the defacto standard, it shouldn't mean others have to adopt it or fully support it unless they want to. And I've seen enough strange formatting in Word docs due to use of existing features to wonder if a simpler formatting of all documents should be enforced.

      But what about Group Policy control of settings and security of these open source offerings.

      Are such things supported?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Banging on about Libre/OpenOffice wont cut it... You've totally hit the nail on the head!

      Formatting incompatibles were already highlighted. But I'm puzzled why in 2013 there's no real Office alternative with FUNCTIONALITY that's competes with Office head on? Business customisations in Excel have been around for 20+ years, and VBA in its current form for at least 15 years. So what's taken the competitors so long to do little next to nothing in these two key areas? Its like they deliberately chose not to compete with MS head-on, even Google!!! The Reg had an article on Lotus again this week. Its such a shame there's no longstanding competitors to Office around anymore.

      Why are even discussing alternatives like Open-Office / Libre - Office if they don't fully support business customisations and VBA etc?

      The entire financial industry in built on these bloody things! We will never get away from MS as long as this is the case?

    3. dajames

      Re: Banging on about Libre/OpenOffice wont cut it...

      The majority of offices us MS Office. They send documents to other people and those people need to be able to see them correctly.

      If your business sends out documents whose layout is so important that it has to be preserved at all costs then you're probably doing graphic design, or something like that, and have better tools than MS Office (and better formats than those supported by MS Office) to work in.

      in 9999.999 cases out of about a dozen what's important is the content of the document, not its layout. It really shouldn't matter that the format may not be preserved 100% correctly when you send a document to someone else and they open it in different software (maybe a different version of the same software you used).

      If you care that much about the format of your Office documents -- whatever software you're using to produce them -- you're probably wasting too much time formatting them and not spending enough time thinking about the contents. My advice would be to stop that and get on with some real work!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Banging on about Libre/OpenOffice wont cut it...

        You completely forgot about Excel!

        Exact replication of layout and content including VBA macros and business customisations is nothing short of crucial. The entire Global banking system runs on Excel, and much of the financial industry at large including the insurance sector heavily relies on it too.

  30. Peter Jones 2

    As for this online "offering"

    I don't care what the added benefits are, they lost me at "updates are automatically applied" because you just know that either:

    a) Users will happily ignore any prompts to restart or shutdown the application or machine when required, so critical patches won't get applied


    b) A patch will go in and mess up a beancounters lovingly crafted macros, causing much whining from the Legume-reckoning pit. Cue an outcry, someone pops up with an LO/OO suggestion, a switchover is suggested, more teeth-gnashing, this time from everyone in general when they find old documents are no longer correctly formatted, and then a switch back to MS Office, costing everyone time, money, the will to live and yardage on their hairline.

    Had I not seen it happen myself, I would chalk it up to a fevered BOFH dream.

  31. J0015

    Cloud; not now we thave Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendment Act

    I see that the US government has just killed Office 365 and with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendment Act allowing them to snoop into everyone’s online data.

  32. Wibble

    Your . . . calculations . . . are . . . wrong . . . Office is free...!

    We bought Office 2003 ten years ago and have absolutely no intention of ***grading to a later version which offers nothing new. Buggering about with the user interface doesn't constitute a new feature.

    As Paul Allen said years ago, the biggest competitor to Office is previous versions of Office.

    Anyone who accepts this MS BS deserves every minute of their impending rogering.

    ***grading: which one is it? It's surely not an UPgrade, that implies some benefit on my part. Maybe it's a DOWNgrade (that poxy ribbon qualifies). Maybe it's a SIDEgrade, but that's just inventing a new word, a bit like Microsoft inventing a new benefit for them, licensing & delivery, and calling it a benefit for the punter. Maybe it's an MEHgrade.


  33. peebee

    Wretched choice

    I'm a power user of Word - the 2013 version offers no real functional benefits over 2010, though I'm happily using my free upgrade - it just looks slicker, and is without any doubt the most sophisticated word processor on the market.

    I've used LibreOffice a lot ... it does some things better than Word, but there's still quite a lot of catching up to do. The UI looks like a dog's dinner (though it works quite well). Compatibility with Word docs isn't perfect, particularly around headers etc, but it's workable. Unfortunately if you want to work on an Android device there's no option but to use doc or docx.

    But as LO continues to improve, and Microsoft continues to make Office financially less and less attractive there will come a point (quite soon) where I'd be mad to stay with Office. It's not completely about the money - it's the hoops you have to jump through to get the damn thing on your computer, activated, reactivated if you reload the OS and so on. With the 365 offer Microsoft is pushing a vision of complete flexibility as you work between different machines - but if that's what you need it's far easier to achieve with multiple copies of LibreOffice and a free cloud service like Sugar Sync, Dropbox or Google Drive ... Microsoft is going to have to come up with a lot more added value (or much lower prices) if it really wants to get users outside the enterprise to sign up to a sub ... I understand that arguments within an enterprise might be different, though at this rate Microsoft will be killing its presence in the SMB sector too ... It's like they are losing touch with the real world ... and need to remind themselves of Clay Christansen's arguments about why incumbents lose out to disruptive technologies ...

  34. pear

    thankfully I was a student once

    Still rockin' on the 2007 ultimate version I picked up as a student for £40. I suspect it will last quite a while.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: thankfully I was a student once

      Long may it last- Kudos! Got two questions though :-

      How many machines do you get to run that on?

      What happens when you upgrade to new hardware or it breaks or is lost?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: thankfully I was a student once

        Install such software in a VM - no 'hardware' to change, and you can have it fire-walled from the internet, LAN, etc, as required for security.

        Best of all, you can then run it on any host be it Windows/Linux/MacOS/etc that supports your choice of VM.

  35. John 48

    Office 2010 H&S Allows installation on 3 PCs

    That does rather change the economics for home users...

  36. mgltd

    Kingsoft Office... another alternative for a home user that doesn't need to be cutting edge.

    I used various versions of Open Office/Libre Office for years, but just got fed up with relearning the user interface and the fact that the Office compatibility never quite worked; you could never quite guarantee that document formatting was going to be correct.

    I eventually stumbled across Kingsoft Office, a Chinese Office clone. Free for the basic version, and £50 for the pro suite, if you want a few extra features. It only writes .doc and .xls, not the newer MS formats, but can read .xlsx and .docx, the interface is pretty much old school MS Office, and it is very robust and in my experience, no compatibility problems with MS Office, so it suits me perfectly as a late adopting, non power user!

  37. Euripides Pants

    ISP data usage caps

    Does anyone have an idea of how much cloudy wonderfulness would typically get downloaded and uploaded to/from all the computers of a family of 5? My ISP caps downloads at 150 gigabytes per month.

    Maybe Office365 wouldn't hit the limit all by itself but Office365 plus Skype plus Pandora plus syncing iTunes plus all those cat videos on Youtube plus all the monthly updates to Windows might be a problem.

  38. Giddy Going

    Hidden costs of O365 - not covered

    While the data is well researched, it is intriguing to have not gone deeper on the O365 bit. The comparison is just a price vs price. What about other costs for O365 - viz., Internet connectivity costs (they are not free from the ISPs)

  39. Rim

    Microsoft goodbye. Check out SoftMaker Office.

    Why would anyone buy Microsoft Office 2013 or upgrade? Because of the fun to try and find out which menu the command you want use has been moved to now?

    Or because Microsoft seems to think it improves my productivity, having to learn to use 3 different versions in parallel, because I have an office desktop, a home PC, and a netbook?

    Or because I have to buy three versions with each just one license? Btw., each office-suite is tied to the system. If a new PC has to be bought, you will have to buy a new office suite, because your product key will be invalid. You don`t believe me? Read this:

    There are better alternatives. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are free, but laggy, and they both have problems with several Microsoft formats. FreeOffice does better. If you invest a little money, you get SoftMaker office Professional, including 3 licenses, and EM Client 5 Professional. This one works great, you can import and export Microsoft Office file types without loss. I recommend it also for its ease of use and broad functionality.

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