Microsoft 365

Cool factor 5/5
Usability 4½/5
Value for money 5/5

Office 365 was rebranded to Microsoft 365 in 2020 because the "office" software has morphed into a "life" product, as is evident with so many people working from home. Students also require apps such as Teams and Word, as well as cloud services.

To clear up any confusion, Microsoft 365 is a subscription, cloud-based software-as-a-service product with the advantage of real-time updates without the user having to buy the software every few years.

Microsoft still sells the software you have to replace, but the subscription service lets you use it on up to five devices at the same time. It works across Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, and offers 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage (for each person) and ongoing technical support via chat or phone at no extra cost. For those who rely on Outlook, it includes 50GB of ad-free storage with message encryption and 60 free Skype minutes a month. It has artificial intelligence-powered tools built in, such as PowerPoint’s Presenter Coach, Resume Assistant, Designer
and Ideas.

For a small or independent business owner, having daily access to Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook and so forth is useful. Word has the option of enabling colleagues to collaborate and co-author in real time. Nonsubscribers can edit, but not in real time. Excel alone has various templates for invoicing, including prepopulated ones for PayPal, VAT, sales tracker and so forth, with automatic calculations and the option to add company branding. Other apps that are bundled include Access, Publisher and Microsoft Editor.

As an independent writer who sends invoices out monthly, I cannot live without Word and Excel, which has third-party app support when exporting. I use various cloud platforms, but none is as large as the 1TB that Microsoft
has thrown in. Having access to my documents on any device
from anywhere has helped me many times.

Microsoft 365 is aimed at small businesses or consumers and makes sense as we work from home. Families of up to six can share an annual subscription of R1,399 a year. It costs R1,099
for a single user. It is also available on a monthly subscription of
R139 for the family or R109 for a single user.

If the cloud doesn’t work for you, classic apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, minus the extras, cost R2,399 in a one-off payment for one Mac or PC.

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