What is it Like to Have Office 365?
I have been remiss. I promised to write a detailed post on Office 365, and I haven’t done so. Fortunately someone reminded me lately by asking.
As I mentioned previously, I switched to Office 365 Small Business Premium in mid May. Previously, I used only cloud based Exchange, something I have been using since early in 2011. (Previously it was known as BPOS, which I used prior to Office 365.)
The Features I Use
I do not currently use all of the features of Office 365. Currently I use:
- Skydrive (sometimes)
- Office 2013 on two computers
There are other features, including web conferencing and web hosting. Office 2013 can be installed on up to 5 computers per account. The cost is $150 per year, if I pay in advance.
You must be running Windows 7 or 8. Office 365 Business Premium will not work on older versions of Windows.
As far as the number of accounts you need, keep in mind, each $150 pays for one seat (one account.) You cannot buy one account and set up 5 different people in your office. You would need to buy 5 accounts.
I chose to go with Office 365 because it made financial sense for me. Here is how it breaks down.
First, remember, I have my own consulting company. Since I work for a law firm as well, I don’t plan on adding any staff to my consulting firm, it is just me. That means whatever I buy needs to meet my needs and no one else’s
No matter how I decide to purchase the Office 2013 suite, I still need to buy the cloud based Exchange email. That costs about $72 per year. Adding in the entire package for Premium costs $78 more, for the total of $150 per year.
On the other hand, Office 2013 Home and Business costs about $220 per license. I would need two licenses, so that is $440. And remember, I would still have to pay $72 for my email. So if I wanted to buy what I needed to start, I would be looking at a total of $512 this year. Of course, I would only have to buy the software once, instead of every year, but of late, Microsoft seems to be updating its software pretty frequently. Given my work, it is important for me to have the most recent version of the technology.
So in the end, it just made more sense for me to pay the $150 per year and make sure I have what I need.
The Internet Connection Issue
Many people incorrectly think that if your Internet connection goes down, you are locked out of your software and therefore your ability to work with Office 365. That isn’t the case. If you use something that syncs your documents both locally and on the cloud, this particular problem is resolved. I personally use SpiderOak to sync my files to all locations. I prefer SpiderOak to SkyDrive, Dropbox or the myriad other choices.
You also will have a local copy of your email through Office 2013, if you are using Outlook. So the issues with being able to connect to the Internet are the same as with any other email service.
Your office should have a solid Internet connection no matter what you do, but as long as you plan your system well, you do not need to worry about the issue of not being able to connect to your work if you have a problem with your connection on a given day.
I am perfectly satisfied with Office 365 Business Premium. I think it is important for law firms to do a cost analysis to decide what works best or them. If you want to make certain your staff has up-to-date software on all the computers they use, so you would be buying more than one copy of Office 2013 for each person anyway, and also, you want to provide cloud based email, Office 365 might be a very good way for you to go.