Recently Microsoft released Office 365 Home Premium, a version of its cloud productivity suite specifically designed for the home. But how does it stack up against the business version of Office 365 or just using SkyDrive and Hotmail for free?
Microsoft is pitching this as “Best for families who want Office on up to 5 household PCs or tablets” and with that in mind Microsoft have introduced a subscription model with simple payment options to get you started quickly. Office 365 Home Premium costs $12 per user a month or $119 a year. While that may look expensive for a cloud service – the cheapest Office 365 business plan is a third cheaper at $7.90 a month – it does include licences to the Office desktop software.
Given that most home users will want to have all the features of Office rather than the very lightweight alternatives with Web Apps, this is a good deal. Also Home Premium is intended to be per household and not per user – it can be installed on up to five PCs or Macs.
How much better is Office 365 Home Premium to the free SkyDrive and Hotmail? Well the biggest incentive to move on will be storage. Home Premium includes much more storage for emails and files. A lesser incentive might be the 60 free Skype minutes a month. Read on for a full list of features.
Home Premium gives you the following:
- Latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, OneNote and Access for your desktop (the last two are PC only, no Mac versions)
- Up to five installations of Office on your PC, Mac, Windows tablet, and other select devices
- Store, edit and share your documents online with an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage
- Use Office on Demand when you’re away to stream full versions of Office programs to any PC
- 60 Minutes of Skype calls a month
The biggest difference between Home Premium and Office 365 for business are the apps. Home Premium may share the same name as the business suite, but it uses different applications. Users of the Home Premium cloud service use Outlook.com and SkyDrive for their email and file storage and sharing respectively, while businesses use Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.
File storage is another win for Home Premium. The Office 365 business plans come with half the storage allowance. Microsoft is pitching SkyDrive as an alternative to DropBox and in that context 20GB is a great start. DropBox first paid plan above the 2GB free plan costs $9.99 a month for 100GB. Although it’s five times the storage, DropBox users don’t get any desktop software for their money.
Still, 20GB will seem too small if home users start to store their photos on SkyDrive. It will be interesting to see how much extra storage costs.
For some strange reason Microsoft isn’t promoting the fact that email storage in Office 365 Home Premium is essentially unlimited with Outlook.com. Hotmail has a 5GB inbox and even Office 365 for business is restricted to a very healthy 25GB inbox.
Office 365 Home Premium was designed to sit in between free Hotmail and the business version of Microsoft Office 365 (it sits between free Gmail and Google Apps for Business). You can sign up to Home Premium using an exisiting Office 365 (business) account or a personal Microsoft account such as Outlook.com or Hotmail. This is a great plus for users that want access to cloud features but don’t have the skillset to set up Office 365 or Google Apps.
You can still buy stand-alone versions of Office and access free versions of the web apps in your Outlook.com or Hotmail account in SkyDrive. Microsoft has a comparison of the Microsoft Office products. Gmail is also another alternative if you are looking for web based productivity tools.
This is the first subscription service offered by Microsoft for home users. The company has had success in the enterprise with subscription models, and are looking to find similar success with consumers. This will tie consumers into an upgrade cycle and allow Microsoft to build its recurring revenue stream for its consumer Office products.