Microsoft Office can be expensive: The stand-alone versions of the software, which are becoming increasingly rare as Microsoft grows Office 365, start around $150 and only go up from there. Subscriptions to Office apps start at $7 per month or $70 per year, and prices quickly increase for professional versions of the software. While future versions of the software will probably be the same price, Microsoft Office is still pretty costly for consumers.
It’s a lot to spend on basic productivity tools, we know. But there is some good news. If you don’t need all the latest, premium features, you can still save quite a bit of money on Microsoft Office. Here’s how.
Use the free web and mobile apps
Microsoft has been gradually expanding the number of apps you can use online for free, and now offers an impressive suite that can easily merge with downloaded apps, if necessary, and has plenty of functionality for the average project.
It’s also really easy to sign up. Go to this web page, pick the app that you want (scroll down for all options), and log into your Microsoft account to get started. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, signing up is easy — plus, since you need Office Online, it’s a good idea to create one anyway. This allows you to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Calendar, and other traditional Microsoft apps. It also gives you access to more niche apps, like Sway, an interactive report/presentation app; People, an advanced, Skype-friendly contact list; and Docs.com, for uploading and sharing documents.
So, if this is all here and available for free, why does the rest of this article exist? Because while these apps are useful, they’re also limited to only work for very basic functions. They don’t offer the full features that Office 365 provides and, of course, you need an online connection to use them. It’ll work for simple tasks, like putting together a simple document — but it won’t work for more complicated ones.
Get Office through your school
If you are part of an education organization (student, faculty, or staff), take time to enter your school email address on this site and see if you can get a version of Office 365 for free. Microsoft extends this to all students, but your school needs to be signed up first or just get very lucky.
If your school isn’t part of the program, an administrator can sign you up easily. The benefits are basically the same as the trial version of the software, with the addition of a separate Class Notebook for class management, unlimited online meetings, and intranet customization options.
If you just graduated, you may not be able to get Office 365 for free, but you can get it at a very low cost. The alumni discount allows you to get Office 365 Personal for just $1 per month for 12 months, a great deal for those starting out in their professional environments.
Try a free 30-day trial of Office 365
Ahh, the free trial lives on. If you want to experience Office 365 for free, you can — for a full month. Just head to the free trial page and sign up. The trial allows you to download Office 365 on up to five PCs or Macs, and lets you to use the Office mobile apps on up to five tablets and five phones. Plus, you get 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage for each user to experiment with. The trial includes the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other apps.