The latest version of Microsoft Office has been released to general consumers this week. Office 2013 became available on Tuesday, January 29. Many will have been working with beta copies that have been freely distributed by Microsoft over the last 9 months or so, and some may have been working with copies licensed by businesses, because the product became available to business licensees last fall. But if you are the average Joe consumer, or are just now hearing about the latest version, it is finally here.
This will probably be the final version of Office that will be obtainable on physical media. You still can buy a boxed set with physical media, but if you do you will pay way more than you want to, even at Costco. Only a fool would pay top dollar for a limited version of the product when she could get it far peanuts. Here’s how.
Purchase through the FCCC (Foundation for California Community Colleges)
You cannot get physical media through the foundation, but you can get a downloadable installation of Office 2013 pro for $40 if you are a faculty or staff member, or $80 if you are a student, including, of course, an official license key. Here is how:
Go to http://www.collegebuys.org/ (for faculty or staff). This is the official Foundation purchasing site.
Click on the Yes, I qualify button under the For Faculty/Staff link:
Click the Go button under “Take advantage of our exclusive software prices…”:
Click the “Shop Now” button on the collegebuys.org rotating ad on the next screen:
Now, here is where you might run into a bit of trouble, depending on which browser you are using and your security settings. If the page does not display, reload it and allow it, as in this Firefox dialog:
In any event, you will see a page that allows you selection of State, School and Status . Select CA, Palomar College, and Faculty/Staff. then click Submit.
The only version of Office 2013 available from the Foundation site at this time is a digital download of Office Plus.
Though it says you can choose either digital download or CD, I sure couldn’t figure out how to specify CD. Maybe it is on the final purchasing screen, where you pay in the shopping cart, but I didn’t want to go that far to find out, and I suspect from viewing the details that you can really only get a digital download.
In any event, you will be prompted via email to submit verification of status as a faculty or staff member to the company that manages the download, Kivuto, and then be able to download your licensed copy onto a single PC. The mac version does not seem to be available yet.
The Plus version of Office contains the usual suspects: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Access and Infopath and Lync. The home premium version (discussed below) does not contain Infopath and Lync, but these are useless pieces of software anyway unless you have very specific needs. I have never met anyone outside of professional web designers who even knows what inforpath or lync can do.
If this package meets your needs for a stand-alone home version Office, however, you can’t beat the price.
A Better Way
There is a far better way, however, and that is Office 365. As I mentioned above, this is probably the last version of Office that will be released with the option to obtain physical distribution media. Microsoft not only wants to move us to a downloadable distribution model, but is even more eager to move us to a subscription-based downloadable model. In fact they want it so much, that they are sweetening the deal for those who do.
You can subscribe to the Microsoft Office 2013 Pro version (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, and Access) through a program called Office 365 Home Premium for $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month. What you get is the ability to download and install the PC or Mac version of these programs on up to 5 computers (and actually more than five, but only 5 of which can be activated at any one time) plus 20 additional GB of SkyDrive cloud-based storage (you can get a free SkyDrive account that will start you out with 7GB of storage; plus 60-minutes per month of free Skype national or international calling.
What makes this really nice is that in order to download the package you will use your Microsoft account. You therefore login to the software that you install locally, with Internet access, and you always have the latest version of the software. No more security or feature set patches, no more service packs or currency hassles. It just works and its the latest version always. Furthermore, since Office knows who you are it retains all of your customizations and configuration settings on whatever computer you are working on, and all you have to do is to login. Better yet, if you store your documents in the cloud, you can open them from anywhere and pick up work right where you left off on another computer. This extends to collaborative sessions too, if you use them. It’s really impressive.
But Wait, There is Even a Better Deal for Us
I personally purchased the $10 per month version because I need the 5 installations, but if you can get away with 2 installations (either Mac or PC but not both) and you are a Palomar employee OR STUDENT, you can get Office 2013 University for the unbelievable price of $79.99 for a four year subscription. That’s 1.67 a month for access to 2 full versions of Office Pro; less than a cheap cup of coffee per month. This deal is renewable for up to 8 years. This is by far the best deal going, provided you do not need more than the 2 installations. And even if you do, purchasing two of these packages is even cheaper than going the subscription route. The catch is you have to be a current student, faculty member or staff of an accredited institution. It didn’t make sense for me, because I needed all five installs on the standard Office 365 package and I am about to retire, so would no longer be eligible for the University package—though there would be no way for Microsoft to actually know that. Retirees and alumni or institutions are not eligible.
So what are you waiting for. The product is great, the prices are low. You might as well face the fact that the future of software distribution is going to be via subscription, like it or not. This insures a dependable cash flow for the vendor and even more so, customer loyalty that is worth its weight in gold.