This is my initial review of the MS Office 365 suite. I haven’t yet extensively used it and perhaps I’m never going to use all its major features. For example, I mostly use MS Word to publish blog posts, journalistic articles and occasionally write content for my clients. For my literary writings I prefer a text editor, at least for the time being. I may one day import all my short stories and the novel I’m working on into MS Word documents.
I have used my share of office suite applications before deciding to settle with MS Office 365. I have used Google Docs. I have used Zoho Office Suite. Open Office, Libre Office, I have used them all. In terms of interface, sleekness and choice of feature, to be frank, nothing comes even near MS Office. But not everybody needs these many features and this was precisely the reason why in the past I rarely used MS Office. Considering that mostly I just use MS Word, purchasing the complete MS Office suite would have been an overkill. Aside from that, for many years I was collaborating with multiple writers and content editors and for that Google Docs were better due to their collaboration features.
Finally why did I switch to MS Office 365 suite which I’m reviewing now?
Basically it was a “deal” thing. It now has a monthly subscription package – you don’t have to “buy” MS Office 365. You can pay a small amount every month to go on using it. In fact, every software company should embrace this model of payment.
I hadn’t used MS Office for more than a decade and what I was looking for was a nice, affordable cloud storage service. I had been using a combination of Dropbox-Google Drive. I had a premium Google Drive account and a free Dropbox account. There were some compatibility issues with Google Drive (some of my devices were not able to read the PDFs I was creating on computer and storing them in one of the Google Drive folders). My preference was Dropbox but I didn’t want to go for their 1 TB account for which they charge $9.99 because I knew that in the foreseeable future I’m never going to use that much space. All I needed was at the most 200 GB. So on Twitter I asked Dropbox multiple times if they would offer me a package that would allow me to subscribe to a 200 GB (anything within the range of 150 GB-250 GB or even 300 GB) space but they weren’t interested. So somehow I continued with my Google Drive account whose initial package is quite affordable.
Then while doing some research on the Internet, I came across an article that said that Microsoft gives 1 TB of free cloud storage space with every MS Office 365 account. And the monthly subscription for the Home package is the same as what Dropbox charges for 1 TB of cloud storage space, $9.99.
It doesn’t just stop there with MS Office 365. For the same $9.99 (in India it is Rs. 420 per month), you can share your MS Office 365 account with five family members and every member that you add to your account, gets his or her own 1 TB of cloud storage space. And every family member that you add to your account, can install MS Office 365 on at least two machines and multiple smartphones and tablets. You get all major MS Office applications like MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Publisher, MS Outlook, MS Access and MS OneNote. Your Office suite will be automatically upgraded as the new versions are released. For $9.99 this was A LOT. Especially compared to just 1 TB of free cloud storage space from Dropbox at the same monthly rate.
Did I prefer Google Drive or even Dropbox over One Drive of Microsoft? Of course I did. But that’s not the point. Just like the previous services I can use One Drive on every device and access all my files. The installation process is not as easy as it is with Google Drive and Dropbox. For example, I still haven’t been able to figure out how to use One Drive on a drive other than C:. Whenever I try to install One Drive on another drive (or change the target drive by going to the settings), for example D:, One Drive stops working. This is something that I still have to work out but other than that, there is no other problem that I have faced. I sought help from the @onedrive Twitter handle but they take their own good time to respond and one often forgets what was asked a few days ago.
The MS Office 365 interface is great and sleek. It’s a lot better than the previous versions. You can use it both online and off-line. Its online editor is almost as good as Google Docs. Yes, collaboration is there. The documents that you create on your PC or through your web browser can be straightway saved to your One Drive.
I don’t use all the apps that are bundled in MS Office 365 much. More than 90% of the time I’m using MS Word. For example, I’m writing this on MS Word using a feature that allows me to publish the blog post straightaway to my WordPress blog (or save as draft). I sometimes use MS Excel. Once or twice a month I use MS Publisher and can easily live without it.
Would I recommend MS Office 365 while writing this review? If you have got nothing particularly against Microsoft the way many people do, I would say yes. It’s a good package. Even if you are looking for just the cloud storage space, you’re getting many features that are not available with other cloud storage services, for example, the complete Office suite.
A small nag that I have faced is that you cannot select which MS Office 365 apps you want to install. What if I don’t use Access? There is no way I can choose not to install it. This is a problem. Otherwise, it’s quite great, considering the fact that you get 1 TB of cloud storage space for every family member and your copy of MS Office 365 will be automatically upgraded whenever a new version is launched or whenever a new feature is added.