Let’s get straight to the point, Office 365 Small Business retails for $150 per user per year. Compared to the previous version Office Home and Business 2010 was about $210. Office Home and Business 2013 retails for $219.99. So off the immediate top it makes 365 look like the same bad deal it was 2011. You can read about it here: http://theweeklygeek.com/2011/07/08/microsoft-office-365-the-cloud-vs-your-wallet/ But you need to wait and read on.
In the past there were different versions within the versions of Office. For example as a system builder I could buy Office OEM which cost much less than the retail version. If you purchased one computer or it was for a business this was best for me and you the end user. However, the retail versions varied over the years. At times you could only install it on once computer, at other times you could install it on up to two computers so long as they were not for business but personal use. Later it changed to one “desktop” style PC and one laptop if you were a business or individual. There was even a time when you could install it on up to three computers. These offers caused many micro business owners to “game the system” and install on as many computers as they could, both business and their home systems.
Microsoft has done away with this. Any version of Office 2013 is for only one computer. So the value of “getting” two or three installs from the retail version is gone.
With Office 365 Small Business you get to install Office on up to 5 devices. Before you get your calculator out and start running the numbers, there are a few things to know. Each license key is connected to an email address, each account is then connected to a shareable calendar, cloud storage (SkyDrive – SkyDrive is Microsoft’s version of Dropbox and Cubby). If you try to hack in one license on multiple computers they will each see the same calendar and email and the storage will be shared but there will be no access control.
The better idea is to get one per employee and then you can have them (you don’t need an IT guy to do the installs) install 365 on their office computer, their office laptop, their personal tablet and also their phone.
They will get “anywhere” access. Office is cloud-connected users simply sign in with a Microsoft account and save, share, and access personal Office documents and settings from virtually anywhere. An appropriate device, Internet connection, supported browser and/or carrier network connectivity are required. So long as they have internet access, your employees can be kept in the loop. Of course this also means that when you are on vacation, at a funeral or in the restroom, they too can get ahold of you and ask you to review, edit or update a file, account or calendar. Vacations will require ignoring your cell phone if it is a personal one used for business too.
One program that is part of Office 365 is Office Web Apps. Office Web Apps are touch-friendly web companions to the full desktop applications that let you access, create, edit, and share your Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote files from any device with an Internet connection and a supported browser. They work well on phones and tablet devices. To use Office Web Apps, simply sign in to SkyDrive with your Microsoft account and you are ready to go.
Microsoft Office 365 Small Business is recommended for 1 to 10 users, and maxes out at 25 users. So if you have more employees than that you will want to go with the next step up.
Included with 365 Small Business, each business gets a “public web site”, as if you don’t have one now. You do have one don’t you? If you don’t renew at least one 365 account, you will lose your web site!
If you choose not to renew all of your Office 365 accounts, you will have a 30 day grace period for renewal, after that all your data (documents, spreadsheets, presentations et al) go into read only mode. 120 day later all of your info is deleted, SkyDrive, calendar, SharePoint…
There will need to be one person, using a primary email to be the one who controls the software. They distribute the links to all other employees, add new people and remove old employee accounts. This person does not need to be an IT person, just one who can keep notes or at the very minimum their business Microsoft Account info so they can access your overall business account.
An issue I have is, you must either create a new email or register your existing email as a Microsoft account email. A Microsoft account allows users to sign in to various services like SkyDrive, Xbox Live, Windows Phone, and Outlook.com, as well as to install the copies of Office. A Microsoft account was formerly a Windows Live ID account. If you have an existing account that ends with .Outlook, .Hotmail, .Microsoft and of course .Live it is or can be used easily.
If you don’t have an email or for some reason might want a “Microsoft” specific email, each user gets an email along with the shared calendar and cloud storage. Up to 25 GB of storage total for your business too. This includes mail and files storage.
In my opinion, a major flaw for micro businesses is that “The subscription has a single end date for all users regardless of when they were added.”* So added a new person 8 months later, too bad, full setup of $99 and then renewal for them in just 4 months.
If there is a drop in number of employees (aka someone is fired) there are no refunds, you can change at any time but only at renewal time can you drop people to not be charged, but hey, you can add them (and start paying for them) whenever you want!
If you work out of your house or are an individual you might want to consider Office 365 Home Premium for $99 for an one year subscription for household; non-commercial use. You can install it on up to 5 household PCs or Macs and select mobile devices.
Either version only works on Windows 7, 8 or Mac OS X 10.6 or newer. The phone version works on a Windows phone version 7.5 or newer and iPhone through the App store. I could not find anywhere where Android phones are supported.
You can visit www.office.com/information for a list of devices that are currently supported.
*This was on my training material that is not accessible to the public and now that I have completed the training I get a “you have completed this training and submitted it, it is no longer accessible” message.
Until we meet again, have a virus free week.