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office 2013I’ve been running the Microsoft Office 2013 trial on my new Windows 8 tablet Acer Iconia W7 Windows 8 Tablet PC Review and Giveaway Acer Iconia W7 Windows 8 Tablet PC Review and Giveaway Slimline, sleek, sexy and silver - but you can’t have everything. The Acer Iconia W7 is a Windows 8 tablet priced between $799 and $999 (depending on the chosen model) that looks as though it... Read More lately, in order to get a good look at the finished product and decide whether to upgrade from Office 2010.

While researching the paid options, however, I noticed that there is a bit of a disparity between the various paid options and the free software offered as part of Microsoft Office Web Apps. In short, there is a good chance that many users could be suckered into purchasing a copy of Microsoft Office 2013 (or worse, an annual license to Office 365) when the features they need are available for free.

Yes, Microsoft already provides different options for different budgets, but do you need to spend money on a full suite when you’re only using Word for day-to-day word processing and Excel to manage your accounts? In short, no.

What You Can Expect From Office 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 ships with four core applications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. These are available across all of the versions (see below). If you want to learn more about it in detail, don’t forget to check out our Office 2013 guide.

In addition, other applications are included depending upon your budget and versions. For instance, Outlook 2013 comes with the Office Home & Business release and Office Professional 2013, while the latter also includes Publisher and Access.

Only Office 365 offers Outlook, Publisher, Access and SkyDrive and Skype, along with the streamed version of the suite, Office on Demand. The expectation from Microsoft is that businesses will be using tools such as their own localised online versions of Office 365 and collaboration tools which is why these features are missing from the more expensive versions of the suite.

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Different Versions For Different Budgets

Four versions of Microsoft Office 2013 are available:

  • Office 365 – $99.99 (5 PCs or Macs, annual licence)
  • Office Home & Student 2013 ($139.99, 1 PC for home use)
  • Office Home & Business 2013 ($219.99, 1 PC for home or business use)
  • Office Professional 2013 ($399.99, 1 PC for home or business use)

As you can see, these are all expensive options.

office 2013

Don’t forget, of course, that Microsoft offer individual versions of their office applications. For instance, Microsoft Word 2013 can be purchased for $109.99.

Further details on Microsoft Office 2013 and the new features can be found in our guide, Microsoft Office 2013: Unofficial Guide.

But Hold On – Do I Need To Spend Money?

The $99 option might be ideal for a home or small business, but remember that this is an annual subscription; over the course of the product’s lifespan you’ll be paying around the same (or more) than for a copy of Office Professional 2013.

microsoft office 2013

But then, do you even need to spend money to use Microsoft Office 2013?

To begin with, there are various free office applications around, from OpenOffice/LibreOffice to Google Docs. These are all excellent alternatives, but if you prefer to stick with Microsoft you can thanks to various free options that the company offers.

Microsoft’s Free Office Tools

You must, for instance, be familiar with Hotmail.com. Over the past few months this has morphed into a Gmail-like service called Outlook.com, and as its name suggests it is an online version of the Outlook mail app. Complete with calendar and contacts, Outlook.com Forget Gmail - Outlook.com Also Handles Your Own Email Domain Forget Gmail - Outlook.com Also Handles Your Own Email Domain Now, using a webmail service to host your domain email isn't anything new. Matt covered how you can set up email on your domain using Google Apps. But is Google really the only act in... Read More is available to anyone with a Microsoft login (for instance, for Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Zune, Xbox Live).

office 2013

Windows 8 users will also find that they can get a version of OneNote for free, optimized for use on tablet devices. Capable of matching most of the functions of the main OneNote 2013, OneNote for Windows 8 is available from the app store and can easily manage word processing and basic tables.

For a more complete Microsoft Office experience, meanwhile, you can rely on the various components of Microsoft Office Web Apps. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are all available free online in your browser (just as Google Docs is) and again these can be accessed with a Microsoft account. You’ll be able to save your documents to SkyDrive, or open them in a desktop version of the appropriate app.

Conclusion

Microsoft are promoting their new office suite as the ultimate answer to productivity, and for larger businesses and students of particular subjects this might be the case. However, Microsoft Office 2013’s cheaper options are not as cheap or comprehensive as you might expect.

It’s a simple task to compose a document in an online Office application and then tidy it up with a free application such as LibreOffice without spending a penny.

For most users, the free options provided by Microsoft should allow you to do whatever you need.

  1. Roxy
    April 7, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Microsoft has killed itself in India by pricing the Microsoft Office 2013 (Professional) Suite at Rs 24,990/- or thereabouts. It's Anti Piracy campaign was working and most of the executives were shifting to genuine Microsoft Office. At this price point, where Office Professional and Windows 7/8 will cost more than the Computer, Microsoft is going to loose clientele or people will go back to the friendly neigbourhood cracker / shift to free versions & Linux.

    • Christian Cawley
      April 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

      That's very interesting, Roxy - thanks for sharing.

      I wouldn't be surprised in two-three years time if Microsoft largely exits the home computing market.

  2. Alan Wade
    March 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    The problem I find is that MS Office 2010 is by no means cheap in fact its bloody expensive. I dont feel I want to throw any more money into the pot to buy 2013 just yet. I tried the demo version of 2013 and just didnt like it. Maybe after a few more years when I feel I have had my money's worth out of 2010 I may consider upgrading to a newer version but for now, I'm sticking with 2010.

  3. Paul Fullilove
    March 16, 2013 at 3:58 am

    I pay $9.95 for the monthly subscription and that works for me. I have found that LibreOffice and OpenOffice have issues with .accdb and .pub files both of which I have to deal with on a weekly basis.

  4. Kevin Wiley
    March 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I was an MS Office Pro diehard for years. But I have changed over to more cloud based apps. Gmail, Evernote etc. but I still have hundreds of office files and decided to go with Office 365. I have all the apps I need, plus I can upload to Skydrive. I do pay $9.95 month for 5 system install and I'm hapy with that.

  5. macwitty
    March 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I think my last Office was the last one I bought - it will be the free or less costly apps in the future.

  6. Nevzat A
    March 15, 2013 at 7:26 am

    I liked the new Office. I especially liked the easy to find and easy to use, rich Excel templates, they are very useful!

  7. techguyknows
    March 15, 2013 at 5:53 am

    hmmm... It's time soon we all want to change to LibreOffice.

  8. Tug R
    March 15, 2013 at 4:57 am

    This is one of the perks of being a student at my university, as we get a free copy of MS Office Pro 2013.

  9. Kingsley Watson
    March 15, 2013 at 4:29 am

    guess i will be sticking to office 2010 then

  10. Gjergji Kokushta
    March 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    I would like to mention Kingsoft Office [Writer, Spreadsheet, Presentation] (free and paid versions). Opens .doc(x)/.xls(x)/.ppt(x) - but it only saves .doc/.xls/.ppt

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