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Microsoft Office 365 review

Office heads for the cloud, but does it send productivity sky-high?

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Our Verdict

Office 365 is a simple and cost-effective way to get access to new features in desktop Office 2013, but Microsoft still has to prove it can offer meaningful improvements on a regular basis. Smaller companies will appreciate its reliability and interface, but there are powerful options for larger ones too.

For

  • New administration interface
  • New features on Sharepoint and Exchange Online
  • App model for Outlook add-ons
  • Simple and cost-effective plans

Against

  • Wait for upgrades for existing users
  • Does not take full advantage of Skype
  • Lacks integration with Yammer enterprise social networks.

The applications of Office 365 go beyond just enterprise work, however. Similar to Apple's iCloud software, Office 365 can sync documents to a wide range of devices as well as various other services such online editing.

There are currently two tiers for Office 365: Home and Personal. The Home version costs £7.99 (US$9.99) a month and offers up to 5 computers (running either Windows or OS X), 5 tablets and unlimited smartphones, the ability to install Office as well as 20GB of extra cloud storage for each of the five users. Personal, which costs £5.99 ($6.99) a month, is intended for a single user and can allow one download of Office.

Documents created in Office on my Mac synced to my iPad and various Windows PCs and appeared online where I could edit them until my heart's content. The seamlessness of the service is typical Microsoft whose business is based around offering incredible software services.

Online versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote are all present and worked quickly, although users with slower broadband speed may not see such fluidity. In fact, I would go so far as saying that the services available in Office 365 would be rendered useless by a slow broadband speed and users looking to purchase a subscription should check that their connection is able to support the bandwidth-heavy nature of online Office.

While many decry Office as being a relic of a by-gone era, anyone who works in an established industry is likely to run into an Office document every now and again. There are some features of Office that cannot be found outside of the suite, especially in regards to Excel. Apple's iWork suite has come on leaps and bounds but Numbers cannot match the might of Excel when it comes to heavy number crunching.