by Rob Williams on April 22, 2014 in Software
The consumer version of Microsoft’s Office 365 service has been available for a little over a year now, and I’ve been taking good advantage of it for about just as long. At this point, I’ve spent a lot of time being immersed in the entire Office 365 experience, so read on as I relay all of my discoveries to you.
When Office 365 was first released to consumers last spring, a subscription was required to take advantage of the mobile versions of Office. Well, given the fact that Google offers competing apps for free, Microsoft couldn’t go too long without following-suit, and so it did. Business subscriptions will still be required to take advantage of these apps for those purposes.
So, while Office 365 isn’t required to access these apps, I can’t think of a better time than right now to discuss them a little bit.
Compared to the online version of Office, and especially the full desktop version, Office Mobile is quite slim. It’s best to consider it as being an editing tool rather than a creating tool. The best feature might be the simple fact that documents render perfectly, as you’d expect given this is an official Microsoft app. Even better: Once a file is loaded, you’ll be brought back to the exact spot you left off.
As you can see, the above screenshot shows a very important Excel spreadsheet. Editing is as simple as tapping a cell and holding it for a second. In quick tests, I conducted some edits and then saved the document. Back at the desktop, I could see all of those changes reflected within seconds.
I mentioned above that this version of Office is “quite slim”, and here’s some proof:
As far as I can tell, this is the extent of the formatting tools. It could just be that the app is not intuitive, but for the life of me I could not figure out how to load a color swatch, so I am led to believe that red, yellow, and green are the only color options in this app. Even as an editing tool, this is weak. Upon opening the app, we’re asked to submit feedback, but should it be necessary to ask for more than three colors to choose from? I admit I’ll almost never take advantage of mobile office tools, but I’d never turn down greater flexibility.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, I was skeptical about Office 365 in advance of the release of its consumer version. I had settled on the fact that I didn’t want it – I couldn’t imagine liking a piece of software with its roots in the cloud. Well, while I’m still not gung-ho about editing in the cloud, installing a piece of software can be made a lot more seamless than I anticipated – especially on the slow Internet connection I suffer with.
I do hate the fact that Microsoft has gone out of its way to make the stand-alone copy of Office unattractive, but the upshot is that Office 365 proves to be a good value. At $10/mo, or $100/yr, setting five different PCs up with seven popular Office apps is great. Even better is getting 20GB of extra OneDrive storage per each of five users. The extra Skype credit is a nice perk as well, if you can take advantage of it.
If you rely on Microsoft’s Office package as much as I do, a service like Office 365 can prove invaluable. I love the fact that I can install the suite to different PCs with ease, and even have control over their individual activations (seriously – thanks for that, Microsoft). As seen in the video posted on the previous page, even on my seriously slow Internet connection I could load Excel four minutes after clicking the “Install” button at Office.com – it wasn’t perfect, but we’re talking four minutes. Word followed suit, and after about 15 minutes, the entire suite can be considered fully operational (even if it has more data to download).
If in the event Office is needed on a PC right there and then, which seems a little unlikely, then the online variant of Office should suffice. Again, on my horrendous Internet connection, I was impressed with how well that worked. Whether desktop, mobile, or Web, Microsoft has its bases covered here.
Continuing the baseball analogy, I am having a difficult time coming up with something about Office 365 that could be considered a “strike!”. I do find the Personal subscription to be unattractive given what the $3 extra would net you, but if a single individual needs a license, then that $3 would still go to waste. Even so, I feel that $50/yr for an individual would be a lot more attractive than $70/yr.
As it stands today, I’ve been using Office 365 for nearly an entire year, and overall, I’m impressed. I couldn’t imagine not having it at this point. It’s one of the best software solutions Microsoft has ever created, and while $100/yr is a bit steep on paper, the amount of features packed in can make it feel like a fantastic value when multiple people benefit from the subscription.
I should note that $100 is Microsoft’s SRP; etailers can sell for less. So before biting the bullet, I’d recommend perusing the Web, and hitting-up the likes of Amazon to see if a subscription could be had for less. A couple of minutes spent doing this could save you a chunk of cash and enhance the value proposition even further.
Microsoft Office 365