Of­fice 365 se­crets

Sea­soned Of­fice 365 sub­scriber Jon Honey­ball re­veals how to get the most from your sub­scrip­tion, whether you’re a home user or a thou­sand-seat en­ter­prise

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How to squeeze more from your sub­scrip­tion

W e all think we know what Of­fice 365 is: a com­pen­dium of fa­mil­iar of­fice apps. That might have been what the Of­fice suite looked like a decade ago, but it’s much more than that to­day. What started off as an awk­ward merger of back-of­fice ca­pa­bil­i­ties with desk­top soft­ware has grown into some­thing far big­ger. And, in true Mi­crosoft style, there are al­most in­nu­mer­able per­mu­ta­tions of what you can spend your money on.

If you’re still in the “Of­fice = Word, Out­look, Ex­cel and so on” mind­set, you’re most cer­tainly not get­ting the most from your sub­scrip­tion, par­tic­u­larly if you’re on a busi­ness-grade deal. So here are my top tips for ek­ing max­i­mum value from your monthly fee.

1 KNOW WHAT YOU’RE PAY­ING FOR

To get the best value from an Of­fice 365 pack­age, it’s im­per­a­tive you know pre­cisely what you’re pay­ing for. Let’s start with the Home ver­sions of the prod­uct. Of­fice Home & Stu­dent is Word, Ex­cel, Pow­erPoint and OneNote, and it’s a one-off cost of £119.99. This al­lows you to in­stall onto one PC only.

Next, the sub­scrip­tion ver­sions: Of­fice 365 Per­sonal is £59.99 per year, and Home is £79.99. Per­sonal adds Out­look, Pub­lisher and Ac­cess to the app mix, 1TB of OneDrive stor­age, and adds in Mac sup­port along with tablet and smart­phone apps. Of­fice 365 Home is the same as Per­sonal but cov­ers you for five PCs or Macs and five tablets or phones. Oh, and five lots of 1TB of OneDrive too. Clearly, Home is de­signed for fam­i­lies and, at £80 a year, it’s a steal.

In the busi­ness tar­iffs, things get more com­pli­cated. There are three small busi­ness ver­sions (Busi­ness Es­sen­tials, Busi­ness and Busi­ness Premium) at £3.80, £7.90 and £9.40 per month or seat re­spec­tively. Busi­ness is desk­top app li­cens­ing; Busi­ness Es­sen­tials is server-side li­cens­ing in­clud­ing Ex­change Server, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive for Busi­ness and Skype for Busi­ness. Busi­ness Premium is both in one pack­age, giv­ing you a full suite of desk­top and server tools, but only for up to 300 users.

In the En­ter­prise cat­e­gory, there’s E1, which is an En­ter­prise ver­sion of Busi­ness Es­sen­tials. Of­fice 365 ProPlus is an en­ter­prise ver­sion of the desk­top li­cens­ing of Busi­ness, while E3 and E5 are both desk­top and server side, with E5 throw­ing in the kitchen sink to­gether with MyA­n­a­lyt­ics, Data Gov­er­nance, Ad­vanced Threat Pro­tec­tion and so forth. Prices here run from £6 per month or seat to £30.80 per month or seat.

As you can see, there is plenty to chew through here, and get­ting the right pack­age is crit­i­cal. Which brings me to…

2M AKE SURE THE APPS WILL DO WHAT YOU NEED THEM TO

It’s quite galling to sign up for a sub­scrip­tion pack­age, only to find that a fea­ture is miss­ing or only partly im­ple­mented on the OS you use.

Let’s firstly look at those con­sumer pack­ages. Home is the ver­sion I would go for, be­cause it gives you li­cens­ing for five peo­ple and you’re not locked into Win­dows. You have li­cences for Mac, too. The full Win­dows and OS X ver­sions are pretty much fea­ture com­pa­ra­ble, although some might ar­gue (in­clud­ing my­self) that the Mac ver­sion is less sta­ble. How­ever, be­ware that Pub­lisher and Ac­cess are Win­dows-only.

You also have sup­port for An­droid and iOS, but again there are lim­i­ta­tions. The iOS and An­droid ver­sions, along with the Win­dows Store ver­sion, are built from the same code­base and miss a raft of power fea­tures, in­clud­ing macro pro­gram­ming. At least hav­ing ac­cess to mul­ti­ple mo­bile OSes leaves you safe in the knowl­edge that you don’t have to stick with An­droid or iOS, just be­cause that’s what you owned when you took out your li­cence.

3D ON’T IG­NORE THE WEB-BASED APPS

Mi­crosoft pushes you hard towards us­ing OneDrive in the ba­sic home pack­ages and, for many peo­ple, the in­te­gra­tion of OneDrive is use­ful. I take a con­trary view: I pre­fer to choose some­thing so fun­da­men­tally crit­i­cal as stor­age based upon my needs, not the de­liv­er­ance of what­ever is bun­dled in the pack­age. But my choices are not your choices and, for most home users, OneDrive will do a fine job.

That takes us to the next hid­den item, the web-based ver­sions of Of­fice for home users. It’s a tru­ism that you don’t need all the power all the time, and that can be very true on a mo­bile de­vice that might be more ori­ented to con­sump­tion than cre­ation. How­ever, some­times you might just need ac­cess to a doc­u­ment, spread­sheet or pre­sen­ta­tion, and the near­est com­puter is one that be­longs to a friend.

Fire up Of­fice 365 and you have ac­cess to both your OneDrive data, and the ba­sic

BE­LOW Real-time col­lab­o­ra­tion lets sev­eral peo­ple work on the same doc­u­ment at the same time

ABOVE The web­based ver­sions of Of­fice can be use­ful when you’re away from your ma­chine

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