In the 25 years since Microsoft made Office, it's grown to 1.2 billion users. Office 2010 is nearing the end of its lifecyle, with Microsoft scheduled to shut off mainstream support on October 13, 2015. If that applies to you, then you may care less about what's new in Office 2016 than you do about how much it is going to cost you.
Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal both include Office 2016 apps; the Home version is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, while the Personal version is $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly. Office 365 University will set students back $79.99 for a four-year subscription; it can be used on two PCs, Macs, or tablets plus two phones and comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage, as well as full, installed versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher.
Microsoft wants customers to embrace its cloud, so it is rewarding the 15 million users who already subscribe to Office 365 with regular updates and features, including Office 2016 apps and promised improvements to OneDrive syncing. The company calls Office 365 its "best Office value."
Prices for Office 365 Business vary from $5 to $8.25 to $12.50 per month, depending on the plan; the same is true for Office 365 Enterprise, which is available for $8, $12 and $20 per month. It requires an annual commitment to score on those prices of either Business or Enterprise flavors of Office 365. The pricier two options for both come with "full installed Office applications," which now include Office 2016 apps for PC and Mac, "on up to five PCs or Macs." Additionally, those options include 1TB of storage per user and digital storytelling tools. Other options are available depending upon the flavor of Office 365 Business or Enterprise.
If you are not inclined to use Office 365 because a subscription is a bit like Microsoft holding your data for ransom, or because you don't trust the cloud in the U.S., Office 2016 is available in pay-once, "perpetual" boxed versions. The Redmond giant may want to kill off software in favor of services, but it's not happening with this new Office release. $149.99 is the price attached to Office Home & Student 2016, and if you really want Outlook 2016 then $229.99 is the cost of Office Home & Business 2016 for both Windows and Mac. These can be downloaded or bought in brick-and-mortar stores; two searches showed both listed at Walmart and Best Buy.
Home & Student comes with Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, and OneNote 2016 and 15GB of OneDrive storage. Home & Business comes with Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, OneNote 2016, Outlook 2016 and 15GB of OneDrive storage.
Users who opt for the one-time purchase of boxed Office 2016 flavors will not get the frequent updates, new features, and improvements that will roll out to the cloud versions, according to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.
Now, if you think you don't need no stinkin' Office 365 subscription, but want Office Professional 2016, then get ready to feel the pain. Like the Office 2016 boxed versions, it's only good for one PC, but it costs a whopping $399.99 before tossing in applicable taxes.
The 2016 Pro version comes with Outlook, Publisher, Access, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. You still get the cloud too, as Microsoft said, "Sign in to Office 2016 and use OneDrive to easily access your recent documents on any device with seamless integration." Unlike the previous boxed versions, Office Professional 2016 was not listed in any searches that I tried for brick-and-mortar stores. It can be purchased and downloaded via Microsoft.
Office 2016 embraces cloud and collaboration
"The new Office takes the work out of working together," Microsoft advertised. "Today we are delivering a set of experiences that is built for making teamwork seamless," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team. Office 2016 "is all about the cloud," according to a review on The Verge.
Indeed, Microsoft is pushing new collaboration features in this "mobile-first, cloud-first world" since "how people work has changed dramatically." Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put it like this: "Mobility. Conversations. Intelligence. This is why Office has transformed from a familiar set of tools like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to a new way to work together on the fly with new solutions like OneDrive, Sway, Sunrise, WunderList, Outlook, Skype, Yammer, Delve and Power BI."
The new Office has a "Tell Me" tool that is a bit like Clippy without actually seeing the distraction; it allows you to "find the right Office feature or command," while Smart Lookup uses Bing. The digital storytelling app Sway mentioned by Satya is already available for free in the Windows Store. There are other new features and improvements, but in PCWorld Mark Hachman's review, he said Microsoft hasn't answered the most basic question of "Why should I upgrade?"
But if you have Office 2010, then remember the end-of-lifecyle clock is ticking and you need to upgrade before Microsoft stops patching it and you become extremely vulnerable to hacking.
***Update: Microsoft is running a deal; Terry Myerson announced, "If you upgrade to Windows 10 and have Office 2010 or earlier, you can get a 50% discount on a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal through the pre-installed Get Office app." That makes Office 365 -- with the Office 2016 apps -- just $35 for a year.