The good news: You can still buy a standalone version of Microsoft Office (for now) instead of paying Microsoft regular money for a subscription. The bad news, however, is that you can no longer get a super-cheap, one-off copy of Office via Microsoft’s Home Use Program.
The Home Use Program allowed people to purchase a discounted version of Microsoft Office to use on their personal computers — assuming, of course, that Office was already offered at their workplace. The cost for the different standalone versions of Office was a mere $22, though you could also purchase a discounted subscription to Office 365 Personal or Office 365 Home for $99 and $129 respectively, a savings of $30.
Now, Microsoft has removed the standalone (non-subscription) versions of office from the HUP program. As its FAQ reads:
“Microsoft is updating the Home Use Program to offer discounts on the latest and most up to date products such as Office 365, which is always up to date with premium versions of Office apps across all your devices. Office Professional Plus 2019 and Office Home and Business 2019 are no longer available as Home Use Program offers.”
Microsoft hasn’t changed the discount for Office 365 Personal or Office 365 Home, but the subscription fee will cost you more annually then if you were only planning to use Microsoft Office on a single computer at home. Yes, you’ll get extra features on your mobile apps and 1TB of OneDrive storage, which softens the pain a bit, but some people might simply prefer a cheap version of basic Microsoft Office.
While the company still offers regular-priced versions of Microsoft Office’s “one-time” versions, expect to pay anywhere from $199 for Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019 to a whopping $639 for Microsoft Office Professional 2019.
To put those numbers in perspective, that’s 2–6 years of the regularly priced Office 365 Personal (or around 1.5–4.5 years of Office 365 Home).
Microsoft hasn’t made any formal declaration that it’s planning to get rid of these standalone versions of Microsoft Office, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the company eventually kills them off in favour of Office 365 subscriptions.
If you’re dead-set against paying an annual fee for a word processor (and friends), you might want to pick up a copy of Office’s one-off version the next time you see a big sale — you might not be able to once Microsoft announces Office 2022 (or a big 2022 update to Office 365).
Otherwise, there’s always LibreOffice.