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What version of Office do I need?

I have just started looking at a new computer for my children for school. They will need office but I have had a quick look and there appears to be a million different versions out there. What are the differences and what should I be looking for.

Casey, Hamilton

Hi Casey,

Over the last couple of years Microsoft has dramatically changed how they charge for their products.

When you break it down you have 3 options. What products you want included with office, if you own or rent it and how many devices you can install it on.

In the past part of your computer purchase would go to Microsoft to cover Windows, you would then purchase Office if you needed it and wouldn’t pay Microsoft again. Microsoft now want to charge customers more often so they are moving to a model where you rent office. You either pay a monthly or yearly fee. If you don’t pay this yearly fee then the software stops working. The big advantage of this is that when you renew you are entitled to run the latest version of Office.

You can still purchase Office outright however it is likely Microsoft will discontinue this option over the next few years.

The products that come with Office vary from version to version. All versions include the basics (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote). What varies is if Outlook, Publisher and Access are included. You will need to see what your children’s classes require but most won’t require Outlook or Access. Some may require Publisher.

The last choice you have is how many devices you can install it on. It used to be that you needed one license of Office for each computer you install it on. There are now options for a single device or five devices includes Windows and Mac computer as well as tablets.

Not all versions are available in each combination. A full comparison as well as pricing can be found on the Microsoft website here

If you have any doubts speak to your children’s school. They should be able to help you with what version your children will need.