Office 365 is the latest software to become cloud-based. The suite of apps is perfect for individuals, homes and small to medium sized businesses. But why would you want to cloud-based on your PC software and what are the real benefits and drawbacks?


Storage and accessibility

Microsoft has given you the option store your files on the cloud or on your PC or Mac. However, going to the cloud means you don’t have to take up masses of space on your PC – making it perfect for portable tablets etc. With a generous 1TB of storage per user, you have more than enough room to store your work.

If you opt for cloud-based storage, it’s all stored on Microsoft’s Data Centre, so you can access it anywhere and with any laptop, phone, tablet etc. As you may have guessed, there’s now apps available for the most popular devices.

The downside to this – you will need either a Wi-Fi connection of portable hotspot to both activate your subscription and to save your documents to the cloud (unless you’re using the desktop OneDrive application).

Ease of use

The great thing about cloud-based storage is you will always have the latest, most up-to-date copy of your files AND the software. Microsoft Office 365 will automatically update when needed – you have no control over this.

If you cancel your subscription you WILL still be able to access your documents, but you’ll have to sign directly into One Drive. You won’t however, be able to create and edit documents.

The biggest drawback to this new way of buying Office software, is you WILL need to go online to access updates. You may argue that this is no different to the old style of installing the software to you PC. HOWEVER, you will need to log online every 39 days to keep your subscription and updates current. If you don’t your account goes into reduced functionality mode and you’ll be only able to view and print, but not edit or create files. You then need to reactivate your subscription again, by going online.

Financial commitment

One of the biggest changes to Office 365 is with the financial and legal side of things.

Payment is now an ongoing monthly or annual fee. This is great for those on a tight budget, as you can get access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, One Note, Publisher and Access from only £3.10 a month – AND you get free technical support too.

The different package options can be quite confusing though as there’s one for personal use (1 PC/Mac plus 1 tablet or Android) and a home use one (for up to 5 PC/Macs plus 5 tablets or Android). However, there’s also various business versions available too AND, if you are intending on using Office 365 for business, you WILL need to get a business plan – as the legal agreement for the home and personal editions, strictly prohibits using it for business.

But do you need Office 365?

Overall, Office 365 gives you access to full versions of the main Microsoft Office software packages in an affordable, accessible package. On the other hand, you need to weigh this up against using the likes of Google Docs (currently free) and a free or low cost cloud-storage program such as Dropbox.

How do you feel about Office 365? Do you love it or hate it? What do you consider its best features? Or are you more a Google Docs person? Again, what do you find most appealing about it? Why not share your views and opinions in the comments box below!