Buying Office for small law firmMicrosoft has changed their billing model from once off purchases to annual or monthly subscriptions. The plus for Microsoft is that they will make even more money, the plus side for the consumer is that it is easier to manage and stay up to date with the latest versions of their software and it should minimise the risk of viruses and malware.

Users of Mirosoft Office 365 Home get to share their office application with 5Pc’s, Macs or mobile devices, depending on the OS of the mobile device – so this is very positive for the home user at about R750 per year – oh, you get 60 Skype minutes per month. At R62.50 per month it really is worth the money.


Even though the Office 365 Home option is reasonable, I would imagine Microsoft is making a fair whack from this, as before this was the most abused side of the Office licensing suite, and Microsoft although aware of it, were very kind in not prosecuting any home users, as far as I am aware.

Office 365
Office 365 is Office 2013, but heavily interwoven into the internet and the billing model is per year/month without you taking full ownership of the software. The versions usually offer the full suite of Office 2013, even though you won’t use all of it.

Office 2013
This is the office as we all know it, but the very latest version of the productivity suite. You own the software, but need to upgrade it when the later versions are released, although in South Africa we keep versions of Office until we are forced by vendors mostly who stop supporting the Office version we are sitting on! Internationally they talk of 3 to 5 year life span on Office suites; I think we push this to 5 to 7 years. We tend to change versions due to a vendor application requiring a later version of Office rather than changing due to the enhancements of Office…not true?

What do I choose for Home Use?
If you have a single user license requirement at home AND you don’t need the Outlook client (you use something like Google, Yahoo or other online email systems) – go with the Office Home and Student 2013 – recommended price of R999. It has Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

For more than one user OR if you need Outlook email at home, go for the Office 365 Home Premium at R750 per year. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher. It also allows you to install it on 5 PCs/Macs or mobile devices. You then also get 60 free minutes on Skype call, which allows you to call mobile or land lines overseas and local. So even if you used Skype to call local calls you would save yourself R34, assuming local calls @ R0.57 per minute (actually 57c minimum charge and 42c per minute). This package also allows you to install “your” copy of Office 365 on an external PC, say at a coffee shop or internet café and when you are finished, it removes the copy of Office 365 from the PC you were using. Provided it is a Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC.

For Students, there is Office 365 University which is the same product as Home Premium, but costs R699.99 for a 4 year subscription and allows it to be installed on 2 devices.

What do I use for the Office?
If all you need is MS Exchange and an Outlook email client, then you could go for Hosted email – this does not include Office applications, but does allow you to view attachments sent to you. This may work if you need Exchange, but use Open Office or Corel Office. The cost of this offering is R37.30 per user per month. This type of license is not limited to the number of users.

If you occasionally edit documents and need the hosted Exchange email, you could go for the Office 365 Small Business at R559.20 for the year per user. This does not have desktop Office, but allows you to use the Online Office applications. I would imagine this would be fine for some partners. This license is limited to 25 users.

If you need the full Office suite on your desktop. Get the Office 365 Small Business Premium at R1399.20 per user per year. This will give you Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher and Lync. This license is limited to 25 users. It includes hosted email/calendars, hosted Web site, web conferencing and offers mobile device access to Office apps.

For firms with less than 300 users, you can go for the Office 365 Midsized Business, which is the same as the Small Business Premium but includes InfoPath and SharePoint site for R139.90 per user per month on an annual contract.

For the larger enterprise firms there is a product called Office 365 Enterprise E3 which has everything the Midsized Business product has, but includes Active Directory Integration, site mailboxes for sharing of project-specific folders, advanced email features like archiving, legal hold capabilities with unlimited storage, eDiscovery Center to easily search for documents or communications to or from your firm, hosted voicemail with auto attendant and Business Intelligence software to compile interactive dashboards. This will cost you R186.50 per month per user with an annual contract.

To buy Office outright for the firm
For the Office suite as we know it, you can opt for the Office Home and Business 2013 at a cost of R2399.99 – this will get you Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. (Over 3 years R66.66 per month, over 5 years R40 and over 7 years R28.57)

If you need MS Access and/or Publisher you will need to go for the Office Professional 2013 at R4399.99.

The above two products are licensed per computer.

Which do you buy Office 365 or Office 2013?
If you have more than 10 users, I would speak to your software supplier and ask them to find out about the Microsoft Volume Licensing Program – there may be offerings that suit your firm.

For small firms with their own MS Exchange already in place, I would suggest the Office Home and Business 2013 at R2399.99.

A small firm needing the shared calendaring and hosted email, I would suggest Office 365 Small Business Premium for the ferocious users of Office apps and then Office 365 Small Business for the not so ferocious users like the partners who only check the documents.

In fact, now that I think of it, any partners who only checks Word documents could use Office 365 Small Business.

The Microsoft South Africa site is very helpful when looking at the products and how they stack up against each other, have a look if you are considering a new version of Office:

To wrap up, this buying advice is really only for the smaller firms and for home use, in a future article I would like to tackle the Volume Licensing Program and find out what sort of volumes are needed to allow firms discounted software pricing.

I hope this article was helpful to those about to buy MS Office, any ideas or ways to pay less for your software will be greatly appreciated.


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