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In recent years Microsoft decided to offer a subscription based Office product. But does it really offer savings over purchasing the software outright? Let’s find out.

In this comparison we will be looking at the 3 major versions of office: Student, Home and Business. These all come with the basic applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The Business versions include a few more applications meant for business workplaces, mostly centered on email and file sharing.

Now let’s get to the real reason you’re reading this, THE COST. Office 365 is the rented/mobile version of Office, meaning that you pay for access to the applications and can use the 365 website to access them without having to install them. But you do have the option to install the applications on up to 5 systems per account. The pricing is based on a yearly subscription model. The Home and Business subscriptions are pretty straight forward and are charged per year, with $100/yr for home and $150/yr/user for business. The student model is a special case for 365 being that it is only $80/4yr, yes that’s $80 for 4 years of service. However, there is a catch; you MUST have a verified student email to qualify for that special pricing.

Now the 1 time purchase of office also comes in the same style as 365: Student, Home, and Business. The cost is a large upfront fee but it’s only a 1 time cost, but the software can only be installed once. Meaning that if you want to install on multiple systems you will need to purchase the software for each system, which can quickly add up. The pricing for the single use software is: Student ~$150, Home ~$230, and Business ~$450. As you can see with the single purchase the pricing can get out of hand with just the student pricing.

Now back to the real question: Should you rent or buy? All depends on what you need. If you’re a single computer person then buying may be the right choice for you. If you have a desktop but need to travel for work or school and need access to the applications, then renting may be the better option as you can use the apps from the website. The decision to rent or buy all comes down to your needs as an individual, or company.

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