By Stephen Pate – Microsoft has sweetened the license for Office 365 Home Premium with free services – 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype international calls per month.
The $99 annual Office 365 Home Premium subscription for 5 users or 5 devices has a potential value of $2,600. Microsoft is either giving away Office 365 or a lot of cloud services.
Office 365 is different from the way Microsoft licensed Office in the past. Pre Office 365, you would buy a license per computer. Some licenses included a laptop and desktop. Typically people would buy a license Microsoft Office Home and Business 2013 (1PC/1User)every 3-7 years at a cost of $220 per computer. You can still do that.
Office 365 Subscription
The new way to get Office is an Office 365 subscription. For families of 2 or more people, the best buy is the $99 annual license for up to 5 people or 5 devices. A couple with one child could put Office 365 on two computers each plus one for their child. Any combination of 5 people or devices works.
The cost for Office then could be as low as $20 per person per year or $50 for two people in a home.
A single person with one computer can also license Office 365 for $69.99.
Office subscriptions are automatically updated so you have the latest version of Office to use.
Cloud storage with OneDrive
The big buzz these days is cloud storage which means your files are both on your computer and stored in a vast array of computer servers somewhere else, not really in a cloud of course. Microsoft is giving each Office 365 user 1 TB of cloud OneDrive storage. That’s worth $240 per year.
Last year I paid $100 for 100GB of storage which is now free. Paying the $99 Office 365 Home Premium subscription means either Office is free or OneDrive is free.
The advantage of cloud storage is a file, song, video or email can be used/viewed/changed on your computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone no matter where you are.
There are several cloud storage systems like iCloud and Dropbox. Microsoft has made cloud storage with OneDrive easy to use and super cheap. Office 365, Office 2013 and Windows 8 assume you will be saving and using files with either OneDrive or on your computer.
If two to five people share the same Office 365 Home Premium
license, that means $99 gets you $1,200 of cloud storage.
What can you do with 1 TB of OneDrive? Put all your music in the cloud and listen to the songs everywhere. All your pictures can be ready to show someone on a smartphone wherever you are.
Things you cannot do with OneDrive are store porn, illegal copyrighted material or anything that is illegal. Some people worry that the NSA is watching your cloud storage. If you are planning subversive acts, keep them off the cloud. I doubt the NSA is looking a wedding and baby snaps.
Skype Free international phone and video calls
Microsoft is also giving Office 365 subscribers 60 minutes of free Skype calling per month for each user. If you make international phone calls, that could be worth more than $200 per month per person.
Skype recently got an upgrade to allow group video calls.
Is there a downside?
You also don’t get cloud based Exchange email storage at these prices. There is a work-around for that I’ll cover soon.
At the end of your subscription, your files don’t disappear but you can’t use Office programs to change them. Microsoft gives subscribers warning and grace periods to make sure you save your files.
At the end of a OneDrive subscription, you are expected to save your local copies of files since they will disappear from the cloud.
OneDrive is not a backup so you need to continue to backup your files.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network