Microsoft practically gave away their suite of Office software in the early days of the PC boom. Turns out that this was a brilliant marketing move as now virtually every individual, school and business relies on Microsoft Office software to get work done. As it turns out, Microsoft was playing a long game. Now, Microsoft’s Office suite costs a fortune. Currently, a one-year license for Microsoft Office costs a whopping $150 on the Microsoft website. Unfortunately, consumers have little choice but to open their wallets and fork over the cash. Or do they? Here are some ways you can get Microsoft Office for cheap.
Office 365 Education/Alumni
Microsoft and various educational institutions around the world have had a partnership that stretches back a number of years. This partnership means that students and educators can get the latest version of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote for free. The only catch is that you have to have a valid email issued by a participating educational institution.
To see if you are eligible, head to Microsoft’s website. Be aware that Office 365 Education does not entitle you to the software forever. That being said, Microsoft does extend a significant discount to its Office suite for graduates. Dubbed Office 365 Personal, users get access to the core Office apps as well as 1TB of cloud storage for just $12 per year. That’s only a dollar a month! As with Office 365 Education, you will need access to an email address from a participating educational institution.
In this day and age, we’re pretty much online 24/7. If you have unfettered access to the Internet and need to use Microsoft’s Office suite, you’re in luck. Microsoft has made lightweight versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote freely available to anyone. As its name would suggest, Office Online requires an active Internet connection and a Microsoft account. Unfortunately this means that you won’t be creating or editing any documents offline. Furthermore, as we mentioned before, the Office apps are “lightweight”. This means that they are missing some of the functionality of the retail versions. That being said, if you’re not an advanced user of Microsoft’s Office suite, Office Online should fulfill all of your needs.
Mobile Office Apps (iOS/Android)
If you’re constantly on the go and need to stay productive, you can download the core Office apps including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote free of charge on your Android or iOS device. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single Microsoft Office app that includes all of the core apps. Instead, you’ll have to download each app individually. That being said, Microsoft is currently developing a proper Office app that combines all of the core apps in one.
As of this writing, the Microsoft Office app is available in beta form, however access is closed at this time. Additionally, Microsoft’s free Mobile Office apps are freely available for devices with screens that measure 10.1 inches and below. This means that if you use a tablet, 2-in-1 or small laptop that falls in that category, you’ll be able to install the Mobile Office apps on your device.
OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer”. An OEM key allows manufacturers of computers to pre-install software on their machines before they hit stores. Typically, these manufacturers buy these licenses from a software developer (in this case Microsoft) in large quantities. Unused OEM licenses, or keys, can be purchased by end users at a significant discount. This is because the original equipment manufacturer would have bought the software licenses in bulk, thus reducing their individual cost.
Buying OEM license keys isn’t illegal, however you’ll want to exercise a bit of caution if you go down this route. There are a variety of online vendors that sell cheap OEM keys, however you’ll want to do some research before opening up your wallet. Forums and other message boards will steer you clear of shady vendors, otherwise you might have activation issues down the track.
Microsoft Office Alternatives
When it comes to productivity applications, there is no doubt that Microsoft Office is the king. However just because Microsoft Office is the most popular, doesn’t mean that there aren’t alternatives out there. In fact, many of the alternatives are compatible with Microsoft Office, meaning you won’t have any issues with sharing documents between users, regardless of what Office suite they opt to use. When choosing an alternative Office suite, you have two options, online suites and offline suites.
Online suites include Google Docs, iWork for iCloud, Zoho Office, LibreOffice Online and more. These office suites are based in the cloud as web-based applications. This means that users need to access them through their web browsers. The advantage to online suites over traditional software is easier, streamlined collaboration, as multiple users can edit documents in real time. If you’re after a more traditional Office Suite that can be installed directly on to your machine and doesn’t require an Internet connection, there are plenty of options available. Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, WPS Office and more are all free and boast advanced features and compatibility with Microsoft’s productivity software.
Do you use Microsoft Office? Which version do you prefer? Do you know of any other ways to get Microsoft Office for cheap? Let us know in the comments!