The flavors of Microsoft Office
July 18, 2020
Retail - purchase
A boxed copy of Office Home and Student 2019 retails for $150 and includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If you need Outlook or Publisher, pick up a copy of Office Professional for $439. Either way, you get a boxed copy of your version of Office for installation on one computer, with a DVD install disc and everything, just like old times. What you won't get is free version upgrades or the ability to share your copy of Office.
Microsoft offers a subscription plan for Office, called Microsoft 365. A single-user or Home Plan goes for $70 a year and lets you install Office Professional on your computer, either Mac or PC. The Family Plan costs $99 a year, and you can share it with five users. Both subscriptions offer the full Office Professional suite, including Outlook and Publisher.
Office.com - free
Word, Excel and PowerPoint are available from any web browser, on a Windows PC, a Mac, or even a Chromebook. You can create, open and modify Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Go to http://www.office.com and sign in with a Microsoft account. Don't have a Microsoft account? Create one. They're free, and you can use any existing email address for your Microsoft account. These web-based versions of Office don't have all the features of installed Office applications, but they'll get you through that paper due tomorrow.
Office mobile - free
Smartphones and tablets can load the free Office Mobile app from the app store. You can create, open and edit documents using Office Mobile on any smartphone or tablet. Mostly. Microsoft restricts Office Mobile to devices with screens smaller than 10.1 inches. Why? Because iPad Pros and 10.2-inch iPads can run the full Office programs.
If you need the Office apps for a short time, Microsoft offers a 30-day free trial of the Microsoft 365 Family subscription. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/try, use your Microsoft account (or create one) and download the free trial. The free trial includes full, installable versions of all the Office applications, and you can share it with up to five people.
You do have to provide your credit card info, and the plan will automagically start billing after the trial period ends, so if you're not going to keep it, cancel the trial before you get charged.
Education - free
If you're a student or a teacher, many schools and colleges offer Office. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/products/office, enter your school name, and see if they participate. If your college or university doesn't provide Office to students/faculty for free, they may offer it a discount at the bookstore.
Mooching - free
The last free way to get Office is to join someone's Family plan. Whoever owns the Family plan can add up to five other people on the Sharing page, and each person gets an invitation to join the family. Once you get your message, sign in with your own Microsoft account, download and install Office.
Probably not a true story
I had a Microsoft word document open. I moved one image a millimeter to the left, and suddenly all my text and pictures shifted half off the page. Then four new pages suddenly appeared; my paragraph breaks formed a union and went on strike. Then a swarm of commas started buzzing at the window, and in the distance, sirens.