Weighing in on Microsoft’s New Office 365 Subscription Model


Despite consumers calling out planned obsolescence in the technology industry, companies are still graduating towards the subscription model for the simple fact that it works. When it comes to tech, it pays to charge monthly if the product is of good quality.

And perhaps with retaining customers in mind, Microsoft recently announced that it was launching the new Office 365 for Business, Home and Students, now available on a rolling monthly subscription.

The subscription model makes logical sense, as everyone who has ever purchased an Office 365 install disk without a student ID had found themselves debating the price and thinking “well, I could use LibreOffice, and save the hundred pounds” before sighing and paying the money anyway.

So even as a singular idea, spreading the cost over 12 months will help make the software more accessible to people who might like to use it. However, with Office 365 gaining a wide reputation for being expensive, unsupportive and not really geared to the ‘small fry’ since it’s release in 2011, it is interesting to see the new release and what they’ve changed with the subscription model - whilst going beyond simply spreading out the cost.

Firstly, what do you get?

Depending on your reasons for using Office, what you get will vary. The standard looks to be Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook available across PC and Mac, along with PC-compatible access to Microsoft Publisher and Access programs. Other touches include 1TB of cloud storage per device on OneDrive, and 60 mins worth of Skype calls.

Both the subscription and one-time packages have both desktop apps and web access, which is a nice touch - although it’s commonly expected by most users, thanks to iCloud and GSuite.

However, with the subscription comes the realisation that you will never have to update or re-license any of the suites again, as the newest versions will automatically be pushed to update so that you don’t have to. This alone is enough to win over any busy parent, or even IT Manager!

If you’re looking for your business - tread carefully.

365 for Business works out slightly differently, giving both a monthly ‘per-user’ rate for Business or Business Premium , then offering a slightly cheaper version of this if you take out a fixed term 12-month contract which works out at  a little less for each.

This looks to be a viable option if you’re a business of less than five employees, however, from a purely financial perspective, the Premium subscription model works well with businesses above this level.

Verdict: The subscription model provides a good rate for a small business upwards of 5 employees, however, it is potentially a lot more cost effective to buy one-time purchase Office 365 for larger businesses who are not in need of volume licensing.

Paying monthly for Microsoft Home - worth it or waste?

The cost works out reasonably well, with a 365 Home subscription coming in at roughly £6-8 a month, which in turn covers five separate PCs and/or tablets. This is brilliant value if you have multiple computers in the home, and can come at an attractive per machine, per month price.

Verdict: Definitely worth it, the additional  money you save by buying a one-time package, isn’t worth the benefit and enhanced user-experience in changing to a subscription.

The saving grace - integrated support.

If you’ve been holding out on Office because of support services, the launch of the subscription model might just change your mind, as it covers Microsoft support via chat or phone at no extra cost throughout your entire subscription.

Office support has a legendarily poor reputation, and apart from generic set-up help, the response time is often delayed or completely non-existent. The information available on support forums are impersonal, dense and the troubleshooting instructions are fiddly, even by an IT professional’s standards.

With the new format, the support response is faster and fundamentally, this is what will make the subscription a success. The customer care feels more personable, pointing to the fact that some of that money has clearly been invested in the support staff, software and general integration - it is brilliant for both home and business users when you compare it with what we’ve been rolled out by the Office Suite in the past.

The issue here is that the support should have been at this level in the first place, and with the one-time purchase, the support drops off after the first year- so getting help with 365 if you’re not on a subscription is nigh on impossible. As a side note; it is good to see that Microsoft does still offer their boxed Office 2016 as a viable alternative if you remain steadfast in buying as a one-time purchase, but it would be good to see some better-planned support for all users across the board.

So, is the Microsoft 365 subscription model worth it?

For every family, the sole trader and the massive company, yes.

The 365 subscription is a better level of direct support for these types of users and the assistance will hopefully remain as high once customer’s subscriptions mature. It will be interesting to see how the new support deals with its first big platform-wide bug, and how well it will assist with future possible compatibility issues.

If you’re a company between 5-100? Then you're better off getting extra support from a Microsoft Cloud Services Partner such as Grant McGregor.

Microsoft has seemingly priced out the small to mid-size business, which is a real shame as it’s generally these size companies who don’t have broad enough IT support to help with niggling integration and syncing issues.

If you’d like full pricing information on Microsoft Office 365 subscription, then click here to get details.




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