Comparing Office Online and Office 365 and the free stuff you get when you buy through MessageOps

Microsoft Office Online is a free, web-based version of what you used to have to pay for. It’s a potential replacement for your desktop version of Microsoft Office. Why would Microsoft do such a thing?

Industry analysts agree it’s to stay competitive with Google Docs. Good to know, especially if Google Docs is not an option. What do the free features of Office Online do, and why consider it instead of an Office 365 subscription?

If you compare Office 365 to Office Online, you’ll see that both have free features. It’s what you can do with those free features that count. Here’s a comparison:

Office Online

Office Online gives you the four building blocks of the Microsoft Office productivity suite. Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote. Free email capability is there, too. You can use These run as web applications in your browser. Free mobile apps run on your tablet or phone. You can access files from any of your devices, so it opens up the ability for real-time collaboration.

The downside to free is that you don’t get all the Office applications. You might need Access or Publisher, and they only come with an Office 365 subscription. Missing, also, is many of the advanced features on the applications themselves. The free mobile apps allow you to view, create and edit your Office files. If it’s a basic feature, you’ll find it. Don’t expect to create a table of contents with them. Free here means limitations.

The biggest drawback to this free option is that you can only use Office Online when you have an internet connection. The name itself should have made that clear. Take the free features of Office Online for a test drive. It might offer a good starting point to take care of your current needs. You may also realize that the better option is an Office 365 subscription.

Office 365

Office 365 is Office Online with all the functionality activated. It’s the full Office Professional suite, and those applications live on your computer. Remember, those Office Online free and limited applications run in your browser.

The mobile apps are the same. They’re free to download. The Office 365 subscription makes your mobile apps much more functional with extra unlocked options. In Word, for example, you can use your mobile phone to make format changes that are otherwise missing.

Be careful if you have a lot of documents to store online. Office Online gives you free online storage, but it’s limited. Office 365 offers an unlimited amount.

You don’t need connectivity to use the Office 365 programs. The programs are installed on your computer. They’re not virtual copies that get served to your browser. That’s the one biggest advantage over the free option of Office Online.

You Get What You Pay For

Maximizing your dollars is a smart move when you have a small or medium-sized business. Productivity tools are an investment. They should pay you back. Do you want Microsoft Office applications that add to your bottom line? The free features of Office Online might not help you do that.

It’s fuzzy math, but consider this benefit. A paid Office 365 subscription adds applications and functionality that the free Office Online option can’t deliver. To make Office Online comparable with storage and a Skype calling package, you’ll pay what it costs to have a basic Microsoft 365 subscription.

Free is good. Microsoft Office Online is a solid product, and a way to get the basic benefits of productivity. Microsoft Office 365 is better. Much better. It turns the free basic features of Office Online into a complete solution. That solution runs across all your devices. Best yet, it keeps you from running around trying to find an Internet connection.

And when you purchase your Office 365 subscription through MessageOps, you gain access to a host of free tools, utilities and services that not even Microsoft offers.

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