Office overview: Which office suite is right for me?

When it comes to office programs, there is only one solution for most people and that comes from Microsoft. In 2010, Office had more than a billion users and a market share of 70 to 88 percent, depending on the country. But the competition is not asleep, as the growing number of free office alternatives shows. With Apple’s iWork and Google Docs, the classics of the free office alternatives Libre and OpenOffice are getting prominent and powerful reinforcements from the cloud. Redmond is also keeping an eye on the competition. This is shown not least by the changes to the Office concept.

Using Microsoft Office free of charge

The times when you bought a box including a CD or DVD in a store are also counted for Microsoft Office. If you want to buy a new version of Microsoft Office in 2015, you have many options. Microsoft shows with Office Online, formerly Office Web Apps, that you don’t necessarily have to take money into your hands. The free offer includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote as well as the web mailer, all important components of the Office suite and only requires the free setup of a user account.

The applications running in the browser are based on Office 2013 and offer a significantly limited range of functions compared to the large program packages, but they are sufficient for private users who occasionally write a letter or keep a simple budget book with Excel. If you don’t want to do without the full functionality of Word, Excel & Co., Microsoft now offers two alternatives.

Office 2013: The dying out classic

The standard package has been available in the fifteenth version since January 2013 and is available in various editions from “Home and Student” to “Home and Business” to “Professional”. While the former only installs Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote on the home PC, buyers of the Business version also get the e-mail program Outlook. The Publisher design program and the Access database are reserved for buyers of the Professional version.

Compared to its predecessor (Office 2010), Microsoft has improved the design and revised the operation. But as a home user, you won’t find any revolutionary innovations. For users of Office 2010, it’s worth waiting for their successor. Especially since the first support phase of Office 2010 ends on October 13, 2015, there will only be security-relevant updates afterwards, but these will continue until autumn 2020. The manufacturer promises patches and new functions until spring 2018 for buyers of the Office 2013 version.

Looking ahead: Office 2016

In order to stay ahead of the competition, the developers are already working on the next Office generation with Office 2016, as the Group officially confirmed in February 2015. However, the preliminary version, which is now available, does not show any significant innovations. Apart from some new functions for professional use, a few fresh designs and some optimizations under the hood, the programs feel as good as ever.

Microsoft has not yet announced an exact release date, but it is likely that the new Office version will be released together with Windows 10 during the summer of 2015. Because the actual focus in the development of Office 2016 lies in the adaptation to the requirements of the new operating system.

Office for Windows 10

With Windows 10, Microsoft wants to make up lost ground and is banking on a breakthrough beyond the classic PC. Of course, the in-house office suite should not be missing. Accordingly, the developers are working on making Word, Excel & Co. usable on smartphones and tablets as well. Instead of the regular Office versions, the so-called universal app is to be used on mobile devices with displays smaller than 10.1 inches.

In other words, there is an adapted interface here that is designed for operation in the tightest of spaces. The touch-optimized package includes apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook and, according to the latest version, is to be installed free of charge on all mobile devices with Windows 10. The only requirement is that the display diagonal must not exceed 10.1 inches. Devices with larger screens are classed as Pro devices by the manufacturer.

If you want to use the program collection here, you have to book a paid subscription via Office 365. Then, however, the user receives the full range of functions. The free app version is tailored to the mobile devices in its range of functions.

However, Microsoft does not rely exclusively on the Windows platform for mobile use of the Office collection. With Microsoft Office Mobile, the group has now also released free apps for Android and iOS that can be used to display, create and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents.

Read more at for choosing the right office for any mac devices.


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