Office Online, Office 365 And Desktop….Oh, My!

How to choose?
How to choose?

Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by too many choices? When my son was younger, I can remember taking him to the store to buy shoes or clothes or, occasionally, a toy and I would get so frustrated because he couldn’t make a decision. Then one day I realized, the sheer number of choices simply overwhelmed him.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there are more and more choices for everything. The technology we use is no different. It used to be that you would by the software, install it on your computer and use it forever because replacing the software every time a new version was released was cost prohibitive. Now, rather than a series of CDs to install, the programs are in the cloud and there are multiple versions of each program; you select the one you want and download it. Simple, right?
Not necessarily; how do you know which version to buy? Is there a free version, what are the differences?
Let’s look at Microsoft Office Suite. Today, you can access the key components of the Suite in three ways…Office Online, Office 365 and through your desktop version. But all versions are not created equally; so how do you know which one to use?
Office Online is the free version of Microsoft Office. All you have to do to get it, is to sign up for a Microsoft email account. You’ll have access to scaled down versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Sway, OneDrive, email and calendar applications. If you don’t, do a great deal of work in office and just need an occasional letter or simple spreadsheet, then Online is the choice for you! It can also come in handy for limited collaboration, since your documents are automatically saved to the cloud.
If you want more features within these applications and more collaborative capabilities, then Office 365 might be more to your liking! You can get an annual or monthly subscription to either the home or business versions which allow you automatic access to new features and versions. In addition to the applications you get with Office Online, you’ll also get Publisher, Access and, potentially, Skype for Business. These versions, having more features than their Online counterparts, really shine when it comes to collaboration!
Finally, you can download and install the Office Suite onto your desktop. These are the full versions you know and love of your favorite Suite mates! With a onetime purchase, you’ll be working away in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access.
So how do you decide which one? Well, that depends solely on your needs (or the needs of your company). You may only need the basics. For some, you may very well use a combination of the three: personally, you have a Microsoft email account and use Office Online at home; while your desktop at work has the full Office Suite downloaded while your company utilizes Office 365 to keep everyone connected. For others, you need something in between.
No matter what your needs are, there’s a plan out there to meet them. So now that you have choices, a description of each, it’s time to make a decision! We hope this information helps you to make the best decision for yourself (or your company).