Ross Ipsa Loquitur Blog – Demystifying Microsoft Office Editions

I field issues from clients about what version of Microsoft Office to use/order all the time. And it’s a legitimate question since the array of choices are really complicated. And with the advent of the latest “Miscrosoft Office 365″ nomenclature, it’s even MORE confusing.

So let’s try and sort this out, shall we? Here’s the scoop on the three different license types:

  • OEM Version – this version is typically the least costly and is intended to be sold with new hardware (i.e. bundled with a Dell,HP or Lenovo PC). It’s also totally legitimate to sell it via sites likebuycheapsoftware.com (you’ll usually get a small bag containing a non-descript circuit board – the “new hardware”). If sites like this weren’t legitimate, they’d have been shut down long ago. They serve a valuable role reducing unsold OEM software from the channel. BIG CAVEATS: Cannot legally be transferred to another machine and for one system only.
  • Retail Box Version – through Office 2010, this is a version that could typically be installed on two or three PCs depending on the Office version (as long as it would not be used on more than one system at a time) and could be legally transferred to another system (uninstall/reinstall). CAVEAT: With Office 2013′s release, this is no long true - transfer is not allowed and the license is tied to the original installed system.
  • Volume Licenses Version – a variety of these plans exist but in the small-firm world the MOLP (Microsoft Open License Plan) starts at 5 users. This is also the only version that will work in a Windows Terminal Server /Windows RDS (Remote Desktop Services p/k/a Terminal Services) or in a Citrix environment. These versions are transferrable to other systems as well – they are NOT tied to a specific machine. This makes them the most flexible, albeit the most costly licensing option (or stated another way, “more flexibility = higher cost”).
  • Subscription Services Version – a new approach starting with Office 365 and 2013 – pay per year in both consumer/business and student editions.For example, my son just purchased a $79.95 educational license for Microsoft Office 365 including local installable Windows or Mac software (Mac is Office 2011), web versions of the same, 20 Gb of Microsoft Skydrive cloud storage space, and 4 years of updates/subscription for 2 systems - quite a deal with students, faculty and school administration (http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/pd/productID.259180100?WT.term=microsoft+office+for+students&WT.mc_id=pointitsem_Microsoft+US_google_5+-+Office+15+Suites&WT.medium=cpc&WT.campaign=5+-+Office+15+Suites&WT.srch=1&WT.content=hqeDd8uQ&WT.source=google&cshift_ck=7b6ee8e4-cf4a-4e78-a51c-cc10a0d853fdcshqeDd8uQ). Consumer versions are $99 per year at retail but are for up to 5 (yes, five) systems: http://www.buycheapsoftware.com/details~productID~5881.aspSo is it safe to buy OEM versions of Office 2010 from Buycheapsoftware? Yes – and they include a free update to Office 2013 currently. They are about $153 right now (for 1 user -http://www.buycheapsoftware.com/details~productID~5004.asp) Putting it on a machine at the end of its life cycle doesn’t make sense. But it can be very economical to put it on a new machine. They also sell the retail version which is now $259 for a 2 PC license with free Office 2013 upgrade – a really good deal if you need two installs and it is transferable (remember, last retail version allowing this) (http://www.buycheapsoftware.com/details~productID~4951.asp).So is it safe to buy OEM versions of Office 2010 from Buycheapsoftware? Yes – and they include a free update to Office 2013 currently. They are about $153 right now (for 1 user -http://www.buycheapsoftware.com/details~productID~5004.asp) Putting it on a machine at the end of its life cycle doesn’t make sense. But it can be very economical to put it on a new machine. They also sell the retail version which is now $259 for a 2 PC license with free Office 2013 upgrade – a really good deal if you need two installs and it is transferable (remember, last retail version allowing this) (http://www.buycheapsoftware.com/details~productID~4951.asp).

So is it safe to buy OEM versions of Office 2010 from Buycheapsoftware? Yes – and they include a free update to Office 2013 currently. They are about $153 right now (for 1 user -http://www.buycheapsoftware.com/details~productID~5004.asp) Putting it on a machine at the end of its life cycle doesn’t make sense. But it can be very economical to put it on a new machine. They also sell the retail version which is now $259 for a 2 PC license with free Office 2013 upgrade – a really good deal if you need two installs and it is transferable (remember, last retail version allowing this) (http://www.buycheapsoftware.com/details~productID~4951.asp).

And yes, there’s a big difference between Office 365 and Office 365 Home Premium (and the business version to be released at the end of February. Office 365 is a collection of web-ized apps to run Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook from a browser. These versions include the most common functions in the regular versions of these programs. but not all functions. They are sold on a subscription basis from $6 to $20/month/user with info here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/compare-plans.aspx. Office 365 Home Premium is actual software you load, per the above for an annual fee. Really confusing – I know . . .

I’ve been buying from buycheapsoftware.com for many years – they’re terrific and have very aggressive pricing. I wouldn’t hesitate to
recommend them.

There’s an excellent article on Wikipedia on this same subject, scroll down to the chart near the bottom especially: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Office_2013.