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
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