Office Programs – what’s the deal these days?


The days of buying software in a box may be over. If you need office programs for work or school, you may have been confused at the range of options – and horrified by the price! Unfortunately the days of “borrowing” a software CD and installing it on your own computer are also over, now manufacturers can check your software is genuine. I’ve outlined a few options below, to guide you through the confusion.

Microsoft Office 2013:

GMT Solutions: Office SoftwareThis may be the last time Microsoft sell Office in a box. It’s a workplace standard and possibly the most recognised software in the world. It will set you back around £320 from a high street retailer.

  • Pros: familiar to many users; you own the software, so it’s a one off cost.
  • Cons: The price; you have to pay for upgrades to the next version.

Ability Office/Star Office/OpenOffice:

These are some of the best known Microsoft Office alternatives, and there are many more out there – some are free such as Star and OpenOffice, while Ability Office will cost you £29.99. These can all open and save the standard document formats created by Microsoft (.doc, .xls etc), and have most of the same features, but will look different in terms of menus and layout.

  • Pros: budget friendly; you own the software; you can still edit documents from work or school.
  • Cons: less support available than for Microsoft software; might take some getting used to for the computer novice; some more advanced features may not be available.

Microsoft Office 365:

GMT Solutions: Office SoftwareThe latest edition of Office includes all the usual programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) in both online and downloadable forms, depending on which version you choose. It also has integrated cloud storage and the option to host your e-mail, which is where it can get complicated for businesses. The downside is that they have moved to software “rental”, meaning you pay a monthly or annual fee, starting from £3.10 per user/month.

  • Pros: familiar to many users; choose package to suit budget; can access documents online; upgrades included in your subscription price.
  • Cons: monthly or yearly charge; you don’t own the software; can be complicated to set up for businesses and/or to set up your e-mail.

Google Docs/Google Apps for Work:

Everyone’s favourite search engine now offers software. Their free tool enables you to create documents online, that are automatically saved with every edit. This means if your computer crashes, you don’t lose any of your hard work! There are no upgrades to worry about either.

  • Pros: Free for home users; documents backed up on cloud storage; accessible from any computer.
  • Cons: monthly charge for businesses (from £3.30/month); you don’t own the software; requires an internet connection to use.

If you need help with software installation, set up or just which one to choose, please get in touch at [email protected]. We are familiar with all the above and more, and as a Microsoft Partner, are able to supply and configure Office 365.