How to choose the correct Office Suite

Microsoft Office being the leading Office suite package for both Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac computers, it’s good to know the differences so when you are looking to buy an Office suite, you purchase the right one.

Every few years we get a new Office suite, but they still have the same packages as we will list below and then explain them.  The past versions of Microsoft go back pretty far but let’s just go back as far as Office 95 which then came Office 98, followed by Office 2000, Office XP, Office 2003, Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013, and finally now Office 2016 just released.  So you can see every few years there is a new version.

About the same time Office 2013 was released we have Office 365 which basically is a subscription that goes on forever.  If you got Office 365 when 2013 was out, you would ultimately have Office 2013 and now you’d automatically be updated to Office 2016.  We won’t talk about Office 365 here, instead let’s look at Office 2016 which will be following the same structure as all previous versions.

Microsoft Office suites

   Word  Excel PowerPoint OneNote Outlook Publisher Access
 Home & Student  YES YES  YES YES
 Home & Business  YES  YES YES  YES YES
 Professional  YES YES YES  YES  YES  YES YES

So as per the above structure, the prices jump from $150 to $250 and $500 approximately depending on where you purchase it from.  Let’s break down the products you get with each suite.

Obviously even on the most basic suite (Home & Student) it comes with Word and Excel which are two critical programs for doing documents and spread sheets.  PowerPoint is also included which is great not only for business presentations but for kids school presentations in this digital world we live in now.  OneNote is like a journal or scrap book.  Hard to explain, but it comes with all versions.  You need to check it out.

If you need Outlook for email, you would need at least the Home & Business edition.  Rather than checking webmail or using a free program like LiveMail, some people prefer Outlook interface, some like the calendar and some need it for if they are on an Exchange Server.  If you don’t know what Exchange Server is, it doesn’t matter and probably doesn’t apply to you.  If you’re in a large company with a server your IT guy will tell you.  Also, don’t confuse Outlook with website.

If you need either Publisher or Access you would need the Professional edition.  Publisher allows you to have more control over exact placement when designing flyers, brochures and other marketing materials.  Access is for databases.  You would know if you had an Access database or if you wanted to create a database, you could do amazing things, although it is a bit complicated and requires some basic programming knowledge.