Why Office 365 Home Is A Better Buy Than Office 365 Personal

Having announced it last month, Microsoft's cut-price edition of its Office 365 subscription suite, Office 365 Personal, went on sale yesterday. While it might be tempting to save $30 by purchasing the Personal edition, we think that's a mistake and you'd be better off with the Home edition. This is why.

Note that this isn't an argument about whether you should pay for Office in the first place. If you don't want to spend money on an office suite, there are plenty of free alternatives, from Google Drive to OpenOffice to Office Online. For the sake of this discussion, we're assuming that you've already determined that you need the extra features included in one of Office's desktop components.

Office 365 Personal costs $89.95 a year. For that, you can install Office 365 on one desktop device (PC or Mac) and one tablet. (Right now, that means an iPad, but Microsoft is working on a version for Android as well.) Effectively, the licence for each device is costing you $45 a year.

Office 365 Home costs $119.95 a year. For that, you can install Office 365 on five desktop devices (PCs or Macs) as well as five tablets. That makes the effective cost per device $12 a year — a much better deal. (Note that we haven't included mobile phones in the above discussion, since the basic Office client for mobiles, which allows viewing but not editing, is now free for everyone.)

If you're an impoverished student who only has a single device, then Personal might make sense. But almost everybody will know someone else who they can "gift" one of their five licences to. As soon as you've done that, everyone is better off. And if you own multiple machines, the Home deal is much better — you can have the software on your laptop and your desktop for minimal extra cost (something that was never possible with the standalone boxed Office edition).

The Personal edition does look rather like decoy pricing: an option that exists to make a slightly more expensive option look like a better deal. But in this case, the difference seems worth paying — at least to me. What do readers think?


    Students can get university edition anyways. Which, from memory is 2 PCs and 5 devices for $99. Lasts 4 years.

    Last edited 16/04/14 8:39 am

    Some students even get 5 licenses free using their uni login. If your uni uses Outlook Web Access, you can download the software for Office 2013 Pro Plus from the settings > software section.

    Agreed - Home Edition is the better option - if you decided to choose MS Office.

    Personally I haven't used MS Office at home in at least 10 years.

      Its still the nicest and easiest to work with, i tried OpenOffice hate it and my mum could barely use it, once i put an old copy of office 2010 on there, she was all set and could actually use it.

        I have to use OpenOffice at work D: D: D:

          I am incredibly happy that I have to use OpenOffice at work :D :D :D

          (I am even happier that Linux is the mandated desktop in our company)

    I swear home used to be $99, or at least it was when I got it last year. Discrete price increase to make personal look better?

      I'm not even sure the $119 is the right price. On the office.com site (if you hit the en-AU page not the US one) it says the price is $12.00 per month. (us page has it at $9.99 per month)

      So the ongoing AU price is $144 per year. Still good value for 5 pcs/laptops.

        Ah, if you dig a little further, they say:
        Office for families
        $12.00 per month Buy now
        SAVE 17% with an annual subscription
        BUY for $119.00

        I wonder if I can find someone that still sells office 365 home for $99 and just hold onto it until I need to renew?

        Last edited 16/04/14 11:52 am

    I grabbed Office Pro Plus 2013 for $30.


    Ultimately I suppose it comes down to how many devices you have.
    If you only need to run it on one PC and one Tablet then there is no point in spending more is there???

    A freeware alternative is LibreOffice - compatible with office.

      You may have missed the mention of free alternatives in the second paragraph. One of the mentioned ones was Apache Open Office, cousin of LibreOffice.

      Technically, LibreOffice is classified as free software and open source software, not freeware, a term which implies that the code is proprietary or usage rights are restricted.

    But almost everybody will know someone else who they can “gift” one of their five licences to. As soon as you’ve done that, everyone is better off.

    You realize this is software piracy, yeah? If you want to break the rules, fine, just get it from The Pirate Bay and save your money.

    The extra devices are only supposed to be used "with up to 4 members of your household."

    If you want to do the right thing, then this doesn't make any sense.

    Last edited 16/04/14 8:51 pm

    If I'm right, there is also a pitfall for users of an one years Office 365 Home subscription. Activation of an one years free Office 365 personal subscription (shipped with some new Windows 8.1 machines) destroys your Home subscription. I've sorted out the pitfall here: http://borncity.com/win/?p=110

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