Microsoft Office 2016 vs Office 365: Which is better value?

More and more services are becoming subscription-based but with something like Microsoft Office, is it worth paying every month or should you stick to a once-off payment?

When Adobe announced its monthly subscription service, Adobe Creative Cloud, some embraced the monthly fee whereas others were put off by it. It’s a continuing trend across all kinds of software that used to be exclusively store-purchased.

Microsoft is not new to this game. Office 365, which continuously updates, has been available for home use since 2013 but even in 2015 there is still a demand for physical copies. If you purchase a boxed copy of Office 2016, you'll only pay a one-time fee, but you can only use it on a single machine. You'll receive security updates, but your copy will eventually go out of date. If you purchase Office 365, you're continually receiving updates as long as your subscription is active.

What many people don’t realise is that you actually save money with a monthly subscription service, especially if you’re shopping for more than one computer.

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To start with, Office 365 Personal - which allows for 1 user - will only set you back $83.88 per year. That means you would have to pay for nearly two years of Office 365 Personal before paying more than the physical copy of Office Home and Student 2016 (priced at $149.99), not to mention the additional features that Office 365 Personal comes with.

If you’re shopping for multiple users, Office 365 works out cheaper again. Yes, the monthly fee is $9.99 but you’re getting access for 5 users across PC, Mac, mobile and tablet. Realistically, that’s only $23.97 per year for each user. That gives each user about 6.25 years worth of usage before racking up the $149.99 it costs for the packaged Office Home and Student.

Again, Office 365 offers more inclusions and more storage than the boxed version (which incidentally now includes a download card rather than physical media), as well as all the Office 2016 features. See below for a full comparison of inclusions.

Office Home and Student 2016 Office 365 Personal Office 365 Home
No. of users 1 PC 1 PC or Mac 5 PCs or Mac
OneDrive cloud storage 15 GB 1 TB for 1 user 1 TB for each user
Regular updates no yes yes
Microsoft Support no yes yes
Skype inclusions no 60 minutes per month for 1 user 60 minutes per month for each user
Word yes yes yes
Excel yes yes yes
PowerPoint yes yes yes
OneNote yes yes yes
Publisher no yes yes
Access no yes yes
Outlook no yes yes
Price $149.99once-off payment $6.99per month $9.99per month
Annual cost N/A $83.88 $119.88

Try for yourself:

Office 365 Personal

Office 365 Personal from Microsoft Store

Now you can easily access your docs with office mobile apps for iPhones, android, and windows phones with Office 365 Personal. This features 20 GB OneDrive online storage.

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Office 365 Home

Office 365 Home from Microsoft Store

The newest version of this software tool that leads you to accomplish more for home and homework. Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

View details
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