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Microsoft Office 2013 & Office 365 FAQs

Microsoft Office 2013 & Office 365 FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions about Microsoft's New Office

At a press event in July this year, Microsoft unveiled details about its next Office release. Surprisingly, the 'Office 2013' name wasn't brandished; instead, Microsoft preferred (even till now) to call it the 'new Office', the 'next Office', or the 'modern Office'. In fact, if you wish to try out the new version of Office today, Microsoft recommends that you sign up for the Office 365 Home Premium Customer Preview. So what exactly is Office 365, and how is it different from Office 2013? Well, here’s a list of FAQs that we’ve put together regarding Microsoft's upcoming Office release that we hope can stop your head-scratching. 

1. What’s the difference between Office 2013 and Office 365?

First announced in 2010, Office 365 targets businesses, and includes hosted, online versions of Microsoft Server products (such as SharePoint Online, Project Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online), on top of the usual suite of Office desktop applications. It’s subscription-based, with different monthly plans based on the size of the business (that is, number of licences needed), and the number of features selected.

What’s new this time round is that Office 365 has a Home Premium plan for families and schools. This plan allows Office to be used on up to five PCs (or Macs) or tablets. The other three versions of Office 365 are Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 ProPlus, and Office 365 Enterprise that cater to businesses.

On the other hand, think of 'Office 2013' as your traditional, locally installed desktop version of the Office suite. There’s no need to pay any subscription fees; you pay once, and the licence lasts forever. Similar to past releases, the apps have a year designation in their nameplates, such as Word 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Excel 2013, and so on. So, while Microsoft doesn't brandish the name 'Office 2013', for the sake of clarity, that's what we'll call the new desktop suite in the meanwhile. Remember though, you do get these apps as part of an Office 365 subscription.

2. What are the benefits of getting Office 365 Home Premium?

Office 365 Home Premium allows you to use Office on up to five PCs or Macs shared among all users in the household. For PC users, you get all the Office apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher. Mac users get the same apps, with the exception of OneNote, Access, and Publisher. You can change the five devices at any time.

Better yet, you can also use an Office app on another Windows 7 or later device that doesn’t have the app installed via the ‘Office on Demand’ feature. Simply put, you can stream a full version of an Office 2013 client app to another device.

Office 365 is also tightly integrated with SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud service for storing just about anything, from your documents and multimedia content, to templates and system preferences. Besides the 7GB of storage space you get when signing up for a Microsoft account, Office 365 Home Premium will land you an additional 20GB. Also, you get 60 minutes worth of Skype talk time every month. This covers landlines in over 40 countries and mobile phones in seven countries.

Last but certainly not the least, Office 365 is always kept up to date automatically with the latest features and services, compared to just maintenance updates for the one-time payment, perpetually-licensed apps.

3. What if I've a small business with 10 employees?

Organizations with one to ten employees can consider Office 365 Small Business Premium. In addition to all the apps in Office 365 Home Premium, Office 365 Small Business Premium includes Lync. Each user can install Office on up to five PCs or Macs.

Office 365 Small Business Premium also comes with a 25GB Outlook mailbox, shared calendar, contact manager, scheduling and task-list tools, 10GB cloud drive plus 500MB for each user, as well as the ability to host online meetings and even a website.

4. What if I use a Mac or an iOS device?

The new version of Office isn’t tied to a device, and a subscription will land you the relevant Office apps for all your devices. (It’s anyone’s guess if that means there will be an Office for iOS.) For existing Office for Mac 2011 users, an update should be available when Office 365 is released. This update will let you use SkyDrive and Office 365 to save and access documents on your Mac. Presumably, the current OneNote app for iOS and Android devices will be updated too.

However, Microsoft didn’t say if there will be a traditional Office for Mac 2013 package.

5. What are the prices of Office 365?

Office 365 Home Premium will be available in both physical and online stores across 227 markets worldwide. In the Philippines, it is offered with an annual subscription fee of PhP 3,499.

Office 365 Small Business Premium will also be available in both physical and online stores across 86 markets worldwide for an annual subscription fee of US$149.99 per user.

Microsoft has yet to announce the prices for the other Office 365 plans.

People can learn more about Office 365 Home Premium or try it for free for 30 days at www.microsoft.com.ph/office.

6. What if I just want to use Office on one device?

You can still buy traditional device-based, perpetually-licensed versions of the Office suite. Office Home and Student 2013 costs US$139.99, and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Office Home and Business 2013 costs US$219.99, and adds Outlook in the mix. Office Professional 2013 has all the apps in the latter, plus Access and Publisher, and costs US$399.99.

Like the Office 365 plans, these offerings do allow you to save to SkyDrive by default. And since Microsoft has eliminated multi-licence packs, if you want to install say Office Home and Student 2013 on five PCs, you've to buy five copies of it. This works out to be about US$700. Compare this to a five-year subscription of Office 365 Home Premium (which works out to be about US$500), and immediately, the latter seems to be the better deal (well, it is if you're really using all the five licences).

7. When would the new Office be available?

Microsoft announced the availability of Office 365 Home Premium this February 2013.

8. What is this Office Home & Student 2013 RT?

There's a version of Windows 8 for ARM-based devices called Windows RT. On these devices, Microsoft will ship a Modern-style version of Office called Office Home & Student 2013 RT for free. For the most part, it's a fully featured Office with complete document compatibility, and it certainly looks very similar to the non-RT, desktop version.

That said, to fulfill security, reliability, and battery life requirements of Windows RT devices, some features have to go in Office for Windows RT. For example, it lacks macros, add-ins, and features that rely on ActiveX controls, certain legacy features such as playing of older media formats in PowerPoint, and certain email sending features (Windows RT doesn't support Outlook or any other desktop mail app). You also can't create a Data Model in Excel 2013 RT, and record narrations in PowerPoint 2013 RT. And in OneNote 2013 RT, you can't search for embedded audio/video files, record audio/video notes, and import from an attached scanner.

9. When will Office Home & Student 2013 RT be available?

Office Home & Student 2013 RT is only available on Windows RT devices and can't be bought separately. When Windows RT is generally available, it'll include preview editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. When the final edition of Office Home & Student 2013 RT is released, this preview version will be automatically updated with the final version for free via Windows Update. Microsoft has announced that customers can expect to get these updates starting in early November through January, depending on their language.

10. Are there any Modern-style Office apps for Windows 8?

Despite the desktop Office apps in the preview sporting the Modern look and feel, only OneNote and Lync have (for the time being) full Modern-style apps for running on Windows 8 and Windows RT. Both apps would be available through the Windows Store. The first of these Metro apps - OneNote MX - is already available in the Windows Store, so check it out if you’re running the Windows 8 Release Preview.

11. Oh dear, I just bought Office 2010! Can I get an upgrade?

Starting from October 19, if you've bought Office 2010 (for PC) or Office for Mac 2011, you're entitled to a free upgrade to an equivalent Office 2013 offering, or one year of Office 365 Home Premium. Small business customers will get a three-month trial of Office 365 Small Business Premium.

12. Do I need Windows 8 to run Office 2013/Office 365?

The official requirement for the Customer Preview is either a Windows 7 or a Windows 8-running device. This requirement should remain for the final version. Of course, you need Windows RT to run Office Home and Student 2013 RT. Obviously, to use features such as SkyDrive and Office on Demand, an Internet connection is also required.

13. Where can I download the Customer Preview?

You can sign up for the Office 365 Home Premium preview here. Business users can also sign up for a business plan preview account. Additional server products can be found here.

The preview will not overwrite your existing Office installation; it can be run alongside Office 2010, Office 2007, and Office 2003. By default, the 32-bit version of Office is installed, but you can change it through your Office account. Here is also where you manage Office deactivations, new installations, and subscription cancellations.

Like Office on Demand, the Office 2013 installer uses Microsoft’s Click-to-Run virtualization and streaming technologies. It’d install the essential components first, so that you can get Office up and running as soon as possible. Then, it’d continue to install the other parts in the background. And make sure that you’ve at least 3.5GB of free disk space before installing the preview.

14. Did Microsoft also announce Office 2015?

No, you must have confused it with ‘Office 15’, which is the codename for this upcoming version of Office.