Should I upgrade to Office 365?

In years gone by, the Microsoft Office Suite would come pre-loaded on your PC or laptop. However, due to a host of market influences including increasing demand for cheaper hardware, many products were boxed and customers were invited to pay only for the applications they needed.

One Office 5 Devices / Microsoft Office

In June 2011, Microsoft launched Office 365, a subscription based service set to benefit everyone. With packages available for personal and business use, you can ensure that you’re not paying for any additional programmes that you won’t use. In return, Microsoft receives regular income each month.

First we’ll have a look at the pricing structure then we’ll discuss exactly what you get in a little more detail and whether you should upgrade your Office suite.

Pricing Model

Whether you’re a small, medium or large sized company, there’s a package to suit your needs. Starting from as little as £39.60 per year / user and peaking at little over £100 per year / user, the tech savvy small business could save some serious money on the subscription model.

Price Plan

Advantages of Office 365

It’ll Save You Money!

If you use the complete Office suite, then upgrading to Office 365 could save you a whole load of cash. Out of the box, you could expect to pay close to £400 for everything, when you could be paying as little as £100 per year / user through Office 365. Plus, there are a few bonus features you’ll receive for adopting the subscription model.

Enjoy Anywhere, Anytime Access

For anyone that hadn’t already guessed by the name, Office 365 is available on any computer, all year round. You’re able to download the suite on up to 5 devices, which is great for the modern professional. Integration with SkyDrive allows you to store data on the cloud and use web based applications of your Office from any computer with internet access.

Work Together Simultaneously

The combination of SharePoint technology and Office 2013 allows you to work more efficiently with collaborative work sheets and more in Office 365. Pick up where you left off elsewhere thanks to intuitive syncing and view the latest revisions made by colleagues with a host of new tools and tips. Web apps are almost a mirror image of the desktop versions, with just a few features trimmed (but little you’ll need to worry about).

Enough Storage For An Epic Hoarder

Epic Hoarder

In addition to the 7GB SkyDrive storage that Microsoft is offering everyone. Premium packages come complete with an additional 20GB (27GB in all). That’s a pretty big thank you.

Enjoy the Latest Technology at Reduced Costs

Rather than wait years for all of the updates to come in one package and knock you for six, Office 365 will update periodically, making the transition between newer versions of Office much easier to digest. Not to mention, you’ll be first in line for great new features that others will need to wait for.

IT Departments Love Office 365

Office 365 is managed much the same way as you’d manage an on premises Exchange environment. Active directory allows IT departments to group people and give them a specific set of permissions (access to email / SharePoint etc). We’ll discuss drawbacks to security later, but a massive lure for IT departments is that Microsoft take care of security giving you one less thing to worry about.

It’s Good To (Video) Talk

Enjoy a whole hour of calls to your business contacts across the globe every month with free Skype minutes. Available on Home Office Premium and most Premium Business services, this is a great incentive for signing up to the subscription model.

How Does The Boxed Alternative Stack Up?


Microsoft typically updates their boxed software every three years. Think Office 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003 & 2000.

For £220, you can grab Office 2013 Home & Business Edition. That’ll give you most of the applications that you love, available on one device, including: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote & Outlook. For an additional £170 (£390), you can include Publisher and Access to those already listed (Office Professional)

So, to do the math, for the comparable package to Office Professional on Office 365 (Small Business Premium), you’d be forking out £302.40 over the 3 years as opposed to £390. Plus, if you were happy to settle for web based applications as opposed to desktop versions, you could get the same service for under £120 (Office 365 – Small Business).

You can argue that nobody updates immediately, meaning you’ll get a little extra bang for your buck, but probably not enough to justify the box price. The only time we’d recommend buying out of the box was if you only use a couple of Office applications. In that case the kitchen sink that comes with Office 365 may not be the best option for you.

100% Owned By You

The same as buying a car outright means that there are no direct debits coming out each month, the boxed versions simply incur a one off payment. All you need to worry about is the insurance, tax and price of petrol (or staff costs, electricity and training – check out Best STL‘s training schedule here).

Sure, it can actually work out more beneficial to get one on finance. Continued support and warranty, plus the guarantee of an upgrade after the lease period expires. Ok, you’ll be paying £200 per month for the foreseeable future, but you’ll have a shiny new car and all the support you could wish for.

If It Ain’t Broken…

With your office ticking over just perfectly should you really go changing your software? Although subscription models seem to be the way of the future, surely we can all savour the moment for a little longer?

Is It Easy To Switch?

Energy. Liverpool, North West.

Yes. Making the change to Office 365 is no different to upgrading your existing package from say 2010 to 2013.

There are of course, more noticeable changes than in regular updates, including the ability to work via web apps and collaborate with colleagues via the cloud. It’s recommended that you offer Microsoft accredited training to your employees to ensure that everyone is up to speed with new features and able to get the most from the package.

What About Security Concerns?

Well, you probably shouldn’t worry too much. The Microsoft has a huge team dedicated to the security of your data. But, vulnerable to attacks or not, they are happening:


Eran Feigenbaum, director of security for Google Apps states that “Any online presence that’s saying they’re not seeing targeted attacks is not being forthright or doesn’t have the insight into what’s going on.” Even Google themselves have seen breaches in Gmail security and to believe that Microsoft is immune would simply be naïve.

Stuart McClure, former McAfee Chief Technology Officer makes a bold statement – choosing a safe (cloud based) service can be like “picking a dog with the least fleas”. Sure it’s a tad sensationalist, but his message is clear, “If you’ve got sensitive data that you don’t want compromised, then don’t put it on the cloud” It sort of makes sense, after all, once on the cloud, it’s no longer being hosted in house – who really owns (or worse still has access to) your data?

In my opinion, I’d say that it pays to be mindful of security concerns but not to let this cloud your decision (excuse the pun).


Office 365 is a robust package that really does offer something for everyone. In terms of pricing, the upgrade is a no brainer. Most subscriptions offer desktop versions of Office, available on 5 devices (that alone blows the boxed model out of the water), plus it also boasts additional SkyDrive storage and Office web apps anywhere, anytime.

Security will always be an issue when talking about cloud storage, however, unless you’re dealing with particularly sensitive data, you’re probably in safe hands with Microsoft’s dedicated security team.

Want to use WordPowerPoint or Excel like a pro? Attend one of Best STL’s training courses available London and UK wide.

Read more:

36.5 Office 365 Features That Will Boost Your Productivity

Formerly named Business Productivity Online Suite, Office 365 sees the introduction of a host of cool features that have the potential to increase your company’s productivity.

Office 365

With the ability to take your Office suite and put it onto the cloud, there’s huge scope for businesses to work more efficiently. Your Office can be accessed anywhere on a number of devices, including tablets and smartphones.

So, without further ado, here are 36.5 amazing features that’ll help you get the most from your Office 365  subscription:

1.       Security

Working on the cloud can be a concern for security conscious businesses. With Exchange server hosting, it continually scans for viruses and malware. Now, you can sleep safe at night in the knowledge that your email will not be compromised.

2.       Cost

Office 365 offers a range of packages, designed to fit around your business needs. With everything included, it won’t cost you more than £15 per user, per month (£150 per year).  You’ll probably spend more than that on biscuits for the office.

3.       Everything Included

Included in your £15 per user, per month, you’ll get access to pretty much everything you’d want, including: Subscription to the Office Suite across 5 devices, Office Web Apps, Office Mobile Apps, Hosted Email, Web Conferencing, Public Website, Spam & Malware Protection, and guaranteed 99.9% Uptime.

Microsoft Office 2013 Suite

4.       Work with the tools that you know

That’s right: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher and Lync are all available as web apps.

5.      Compatibility

Regardless of whether your employees prefer using devices running Windows 7 or later, or Mac OS X, they’ll be able to run Office 365.

6.      Cleaner, standardised navigation

Say goodbye to clutter and hello to a smooth user experience. With web apps mirroring much of the desktop application’s functionality, integration is seamless.

7.      Access your suite anywhere, on any device

One Office 5 Devices / Microsoft Office

Although late to the tablet scene and with a relatively small portion of the smartphone market, Microsoft recognises the need for its products to be available and fully functioning on a number of devices. Yes, that includes iPhone, Samsung Galaxy Note, iPad, Surface Tab and many more. Optimised for touch, a number of cool navigation tools are available to tablet & smartphone users.

8.     Great for small businesses

Office 365 offers 5 packages to suit your personal and business needs: Home Premium, Small Business Premium, Pro Plus, Enterprise & University. With up to 50 users able to be registered, small businesses can save money on unlimited packages such as Pro Plus and Enterprise and only pay for the services they need.

9.    Money back guarantee

As mentioned in #3, Microsoft guarantee 99.9% uptime, but if by some miracle, there is a problem with the server which causes more than 0.1% downtime over the course of the year, it’s refund time.

10.    On cloud nine

With no clunky servers taking up space in your office, you can trust Microsoft to safely store the majority of your data on the cloud.

11.    Service Status dashboard

Service Status Dashboard

Your IT manager will have access to a service status dashboard, showing them the performance of your services. If anything goes awry, they’ll be the first to know and can hopefully sort things before catastrophe strikes.

12.    On & Offline Working

Sync your content in SharePoint and save it to your desktop with SkyDrive Pro. With your documents just a few clicks away, you can work both on and offline. Your files will be updated soon as you have an internet connection.

13.   It’s the professional choice

Regardless of the device that your recipient is viewing your content, it’s guaranteed to render beautifully.

14.   24 / 7 IT support

It’s all in the name really, Office 365. But not confined to Office hours, highly trained support staff are on hand in community forums to answer any questions that you may have.

15.   Quickly schedule meetings

It’s never been easier to schedule meetings with the latest updates to Outlook. Save time not asking everyone to check their calendars and increase office productivity.

16.   IM, Video & Demonstrations

Microsoft Lync

Lync offers a Google+ hangout style service, enjoy instant messaging & even give demonstrations showing your desktop.

17.   “Lync” up with more than your colleagues

Invite business contacts via email and start sealing deals with the simplicity of Lync.

18.   Change your presence status with Lync

Much like Skype, but not Skype, you can let your colleagues know whether you’re available for contact. After all, there’s little more frustrating than being interrupted every two minutes when you’re working on a project.

19.   Personalise your profile photo

More than just a profile picture, your Lync display photo is the face of you, your company and all that it stands for.  You can synchronise this with a variety of social networks, online or choose an image from your desktop.

20.   Record a chat session on Lync

A special feature of Lync is the ability to record conversations. Perfect for reviewing a meeting or taking additional notes later on.

21.   Keep tabs on employees with Lync

Twinned with Lync, Outlook offers the ability to check the availability of colleagues and instantly connect with them with Lync integration.

22.   More ways to stay in touch

Aside from Lync, Outlook is a great way to communicate online, especially with the integration of social networks.


23.   Create a team alias

In the Outlook web app, select Home > Options > Groups. Click New under Public Groups I Own. Then under Display Name enter an alias for your team. Add new members by selecting Membership > Add > Select Members.

24.   Rich Outlook functionality

Mirroring the desktop version, the web application offers many of the same features, including right click access to a number of functions.

25.   SharePoint: share your stuff

Upload and publish content to SharePoint and easily share it with colleagues and business partners via a number of channels.

26.   Stay on top of projects


Utilise SharePoint, Outlook and MS Project to the max and ensure that projects are kept in line and that deadlines are met.

27.   Powerful admin page allow support staff to manage SharePoint, Lync & Exchange users

Administrators are able to configure SharePoint online in a number of ways. Giving permissions for external clients to access your account is a great feature.

28.   Sophisticated sharing

Save and Send navigation gives you the option to email, save to web, save to SharePoint, send by IM or (for MS Word) publish as a blog post.

29.   Stay connected with team site

Set up a new team site in minutes and collate your team email, documents, meeting notes and more.

30.   Create a wiki

Capture and share information in one handy place, your team site. With your whole team’s knowledge in one place, productivity is sure to improve.

31.   Build aesthetically pleasing sites

Whether it’s an intranet or an internet site, there’s a set of handy design tools available within team site to help you build great websites.

32.   Smartphone security

Office 365 on Tablet

Putting security first with mobile devices, IT managers can create passwords and control some hardware features for added security. No need to worry when a colleague misplaces their tablet.

33.   Easy to get started

Designed with business in mind, you’ll find no complicated set up processes which means that your team can get to work straight away.

34.   Work together simultaneously on Web Apps

Get things done, quick smart, with multiple users able to access and simultaneously edit using web apps. Great for Excel & PowerPoint documents, where each user can clearly see where another has made changes.

35.   It’s the complete package

no dropbox integration

With everything included in your subscription price, you need not worry about having to download further applications such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Skype.

36.   Upgrade deals

Some upgrade offers are available for those that have purchased previous versions within certain time frames.

Whether you’re familiar with the Microsoft Office suite or not, Office 365 boasts a number of benefits to your company, from simultaneous editing in web apps to 24 / 7 IT support, you’re in safe hands storing your data on the cloud.

36.5   Support 365.25 days of the year

Plus, half a reason to join the Office 365 bandwagon is that its subscription runs for the calendar year, great for leap years – you’ll get an extra day’s productivity.

What’s your favourite feature of Office 365? 

Want to use WordPowerPoint or Excel like a pro? Attend one of STL’s training courses available London and UK wide. To see ms+office+version+differences, take a little look at our infographic, What’s In & What’s Out in Office 2013.