Office 365 Personal Arrives

Office 365 Personal Arrives

And Office 365 Home Premium is rebranded to Office 365 Home

Microsoft this morning began selling the Office 365 Personal subscription that the firm announced last month. This new $70-per-year offering provides a full version of Office 2013 for Windows, plus access to Office for iPad and other perks. Additionally, Office 365 Home Premium has been rebranded to Office 365 Home.

With this offering, Microsoft now provides three cloud-based productivity options for consumers. These are:

Office Online. This free option is available to anyone with a Microsoft account. It provides 7 GB of free online storage through OneDrive and access to the web-based Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online apps. These apps are literally online only in that they do not offer offline capabilities. But they work across a wide range of devices, including PCs, tablets of all kinds, and even Chromebooks.

Office 365 Personal. This is the new Office 365 subscription for individuals, which I'll detail below. It costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

Office 365 Home. This is the rebranded Office 365 Home Premium subscription for families, which costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

The jump from Office Online to Office 365 Premium is a big one, but it is perhaps more relevant to compare Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home. As I noted in my Office 365 Home (Premium) Review last year, that offering is "a no-brainer for families or others with multiple PCs and devices, an amazing value." But if you have smaller needs, the Office 365 Personal subscription can save you some money.

Here is how the two subscriptions compare.

Price. Office 365 Personal costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, compared to $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year for Office 365 Home.

Full Office. Office 365 Personal gives you one install of Office 2013 Professional Plus on Windows (or whatever the latest version is of Office for Mac). But Office 365 Home steps this up pretty dramatically to five installs of full Office on PCs and/or Macs.

Office for tablets. Office 365 Personal lets you install Office for iPad on one iPad, whereas Office 365 Home provides for 5 installs. In the future, this will be expanded to include Office "Touch" for Windows and Office for Android Tablets too.

Smart phones. Office Mobile is now free to use across Windows Phone, iPhone and Android handsets, and does not rely on a certain (or any) Office 365 subscription. This offering works fine with OneDrive and with local files.

Office Online. Office 365 Personal and Home both provide access to Office Online (as does the free Office Online, which anyone with a Microsoft account can use).

Free storage. With Office 365 Personal, the single user accessing the subscription gets an additional 20 GB of OneDrive-based cloud storage per year. With Office 365 Home, each user (up to five) gets an additional 20 GB of OneDrive-based cloud storage.

Skype. Both Office 365 Personal and Home provide 60 world minutes of Skype calling per month to over 60 countries as a perk of the subscription.

How to decide?

Actually, it's pretty easy. If you need to install Office 2013 (or Office Mac whatever) on more than a single PC, you need Office 365 Home. If you need to install Office for tablets on more than one iPad, (or, soon, Windows or Android tablet), then you likewise will need Office 365 Home. That upgrade will cost an additional $30 per year (which breaks down to just $2.50 per month), so it's a no brainer. If you don't, Office 365 Personal should meet your needs nicely.

See? That wasn't difficult. :)

You can get started with Office 365 Personal (or Office 365 Home)—Microsoft is offering a free month trial—on the Office 365 web site.

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