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Office 365 is an increasingly popular option for individuals and businesses across the country, and with good reason. First of all, Office has been the gold standard for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations for decades, and each edition continues to exceed the quality of the last. While traditional Office suites still exist and remain popular, 365’s rise shows just what a great deal it is for home use, study, and for business. With a variety of new Office versions that come with more features, one TB of cloudspace, and regular program updates, Office 365 is an excellent improvement on the traditional Office suite model. Office 365 works like this: you pay a small subscription fee monthly or yearly, as opposed to a single one-time cost for a traditional suite.
Make Sure Your Computer/Computers Are Up-to-Date
Before you can consider purchasing Office 365, you should take a moment to make sure your computer, or your network of computers are capable of using a new Office suite. To run Office 365 efficiently, make sure your computer complies with these standards:
- Processor — 1 GHz or faster
- Memory — 2 GB RAM or more
- Hard disk — 3.0 GB of available space or more
- Display — a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
- Graphics — DirectX 10
You should also be running one of the more recent editions of Windows.
- Processor — Intel
- Memory — 4 GB RAM or more
- Hard disk — 6.0 GB of available space or more
- Display— a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 or greater
- Graphics— DirectX 10
You should be running Mac OS X 10.10 or later. In addition, make sure your computer uses one of the more common browsers, such as Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Explorer.
Which Plan Should You Choose?
Once you are certain that you have all the right specifications, you can begin looking at the different Office 365 options. The easiest way to choose the right version is to break them down into categories so you can narrow down your search to what you need. Those categories are: Personal at-home use, Small business needs, and Big business needs.
The Home suites are meant for your personal use, including for your studies. There are several versions available, but the two more common are:
- Home Business
Both versions include the entire core suite of Office programs:
In addition, they include the standard one TB of cloud space and 60 Skype minutes per month. The difference between Personal and Home comes down to the number of installations. Personal is exactly that: personal. You get a single installation. It’s designed for an individual. Home, on the other hand, allows for five installations, and can therefore be used for an entire family, or simply spread over a number of devices, including desktop computers, laptops, phones, and tablets.
For the purposes of Office 365, a small business is one that expects to have 300 or fewer users on its network. All of these suites can accommodate up to 300 licenses, if you need more, you have to look at Big Business offerings. The most popular options for small businesses include:
- Business Essentials
- Business Premium
Essentials is designed for businesses that are comfortable working almost exclusively online. Here, you get the Office suite of programs, but only in an online form. You can’t use them offline on your desktop. However, to compensate, you get a number of great communication programs, including:
- Exchange, which allows for business email networking
- SharePoint, which allows you to share documents easily with colleagues
- Lync, which allows for better messaging and communication in the office
For businesses with more than 300 expected users on their network, Microsoft offers a number of suites, some on the simpler side, others on the much more advanced side. The most popular suites are:
- Professional Plus
- Enterprise E3
- Enterprise E5
Professional Plus is very much like Business, only on a larger scale. You get all the major Office programs on your desktop. You also get the opportunity to install on multiple devices. However, just like with Business, while Outlook is available, the Enterprise business email network is not. You also get Skype for Business, however most of its functions require separate licenses. Professional Plus is an excellent option for those business that already have the communication side of their network settled. If you already have a business email system you’re happy with, Professional Plus can be a great option.
On the higher end of things, you’ll find two of the Enterprise suites (Enterprise E1 is a stripped down version of the Enterprise options and is like Business Essentials only with more programs). E3 gives you the business email Pro Plus is lacking, as well as a fully functional Skype for Business. You also get more data protection with better antivirus options, as well as data loss protection programs and identity management programs. E5 represents the highest end of the Office 365 suites. With E5, you get everything that you found in E3, plus even more advanced threat protection and identity management. You also get a complete phone system and audio conferencing. Finally, you get advanced business analytics through Microsoft BI.
Which Version is Right for You?
There’s no simple answer for the one right Office suite. It all depends on what you need. The best way to find the right option for you is to first decide whether you are comfortable getting a subscription versus the standard one-payment Office option. If you are ready to make that change, the next step is to decide whether you need Office for your home, your small business, or your big business. Once you know that, choose the version that has the features you need with the price that works for your budget. For instance, if your small business needs an Office suite, simply choose between Essentials, Business, and Premium. Weigh out which features you need most and which price makes that suite affordable.
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