Microsoft 365 Review
Quick verdict: Microsoft's Office 365 provides a suite of powerful productivity applications with a strong online focus, although it's worth evaluating which package best suits your needs or if you can work just as well with free alternatives.
finder.com's rating: 4.0 / 5.0
- Office apps remain the gold standard
- Multi-device installs supported on all tiers
- Constant updates provide security
- Cloud storage and collaboration smartly incorporated
- You might be able to work just fine with free apps
- General UI can be hard to learn when changes flow through
- You may be paying for features – or apps – that you'll never use
Microsoft built its considerable fortune and position as one of the true giants of the IT space on the back of two product suites: Windows and Microsoft Office.
Most folks don't "pay" separately for a Windows install because it's preinstalled on so many PCs, and because Microsoft's changed the way it deals with upgrades for the foreseeable future, you won't have to pay for any future Windows upgrades either.
That's in stark contrast to Office 365, which Microsoft is rebranding at the time of writing to "Microsoft 365" from 22 April 2020.
The software previously known as Microsoft Office 365 and before that (essentially) Microsoft Office has shifted well away from a model where you bought the suite – or parts of it – every couple of years.
Microsoft 365 is an annual subscription product that gives you access to a range of Office and Microsoft cloud-based products, but you never actually "own" the software in quite the same way that you used to.
Microsoft's seen many competitors in the productivity space, and there's certainly an argument for some that the bundled or free alternatives may be enough for your needs. At the same time, the general slick nature of the Office apps and the extra features and services that you get from Office 365 can make it a very compelling proposition.
Plans and pricing
While the brand is Microsoft 365, there isn't just one single package that you can subscribe to. This is pretty common in the subscription software space where vendors want to provide packages for consumers, small to medium businesses and larger enterprises, all with differing needs.
What you get out of Microsoft 365 is the promise of all upgrades, both for stability and security but also feature upgrades as and when they're available as well as a cloud-first repository for your documents
- Still the best office suite around, but some users might not need all features.
Should you buy it?
The question of whether Microsoft 365 represents a worthy buy might seem to rest on the price point, but that's arguably not the right metric to consider.
The battle between Office 365 and its competitors is one that rests more around power and flexibility. Microsoft has been fine-tuning its Office apps for quite literally decades and it shows any time you use them. Yes, there are features you may never use because it's a suite rather than standalone apps, but they're very powerful apps that can, for users who need that level of power, run rings around the lower cost or free competitors.
That's where the value in a Microsoft 365 subscription lies. Because if you can genuinely make use of that power and the collaborative and AI features that Microsoft is pushing into the modern Office product, then you'll be well ahead of your competition. If your needs are only modest, then the value proposition drops down the rankings, and one of the lower cost or free alternatives may be a better prospect.
Pricing and availability
- Price: $99/$129 year (consumer)/$6.90/user/month+GST, $12/user/month+GST, $17.20/user/month+GST (business)