Office 365 Personal: Like Regular Office, Only Crummier

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Around this time last year, Microsoft made an interesting move with the latest version of its Office suite: Instead of buying it outright, you could subscribe to it, ostensibly getting more Office for less money.

Indeed, on the surface, Office 365 Home Premium seemed like an attractive deal: Licenses for up to five users/devices, 60 minutes of Skype calls per month, and 20GB of extra OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) storage–all for $99.

Ah, but what if there’s only one of you? What if you don’t need five licenses? Now you’re paying extra for more Office than you’re using. (I would argue that nearly everybody is paying extra for more Office than they need, but that’s another story.)

For those lonely folks, Microsoft just unveiled Office 365 Personal, which lets you run the software on one PC or Mac and one tablet. Price: $6.99 per month or $69.99 annually.

Let’s do some simple math, shall we? The traditional, single-user version of Office Home and Student 2013 costs $139.99, though you can pick it up for as low as $99.99 from stores like B&H.

But even at full price, you’d get only two years’ worth of Office 365 Personal for the same money. Microsoft’s subscription option is exactly that–and do you really want to be paying for Office for life?

Me, neither. Much as I commend Microsoft for at least trying a lower-cost alternative, the reality is that all the Office options stink.

As I wrote in “Five dumb things you should stop paying for,” Microsoft Office is a big fat gyp. For word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, I rely on Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2013, which I’m using at this very moment. It’s a near-perfect Microsft Office clone, and in case the name didn’t give it away, it’s free.

As for that whopping 20GB OneDrive bonus, you can score plenty of cloud storage for free or cheap. Heck, Google just announced a major price for its Drive service; you can get 100GB of cloud goodness for a mere $24 per year.

And the Skype thing? A typical Skype call costs around 2.3 cents per minute. I’ll let you add up the value on that one. (Note to Microsoft: a 60-minute allotment is downright insulting.)

So, yeah, you won’t catch me subscribing to Office 365 Home or Personal or Anything Else anytime soon. I realize we’re not talking about huge sums of money, here, but when there are so many good (nay, great) free and cheap alternatives, there’s just not much point in giving Microsoft more of your money.

Agree? Disagree? Hit the comments and do your thang.

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World andWired.


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