How and where to buy Office 365 and Office 2013

Following in Adobe's Creative Cloud footsteps, Microsoft is now offering Office as a subscription service, too. Are subscriptions the future? Here's what you need to know before you buy the newest version of Office.

Office 2013 keeps you connected everywhere

Updated at 2:27 p.m. PT: This story has been updated to further clarify the differences among the Office options.

Along with all the new features, the latest version of Microsoft Office, released today (read CNET's review), is now available as a standalone suite and by subscription. The options are tailored toward different use cases, depending on your productivity requirements.

Office 365 Home Premium, $99.99 per year, five PCs/Macs/Windows tablets: This is the "Microsoft recommended" version of Office. It comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, 20GB of SkyDrive storage, 60 global minutes per month on Skype, and Office on Demand for always-available Web access to the full suite. The traditional 30-day free trial is available for both Office 2013 and Office 365. (I explain what's in Office 2013 below.)

Mac users can get Office 365, too, but it's different from its Windows sibling. While the Windows version of 365 is based on Office 2013, the Mac version of 365 is based on Office 2011. Office 2013 won't come to Macs for another 12 to 18 months, according to Microsoft. Microsoft has explained how to use Office for Mac 2011 with Office 365.

Microsoft isn't promoting this heavily, but you can also buy a monthly subscription to Office 365 Home Premium directly from Microsoft. You get all the same features as the annual subscription, but you're only shedding $9.99 per month for the privilege. The annual subscription is the better long-term deal.

Office 365 University, $79.99 for four years, two PCs/Macs: This version is for students and faculty, as you can tell by that college-targeted four-year license. It offers the same features as Office 365 Home Premium, including the Skype minutes and SkyDrive storage.

Office Home and Student 2013, $139.99, one PC: This is the traditional one-computer, home-only license that has been the mainstay of Office pricing throughout its history. Think of it as the "retro" option. It comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. It offers none of the Office 365 extras, and Microsoft recommends it for families that share one central computer at home.

Microsoft Word 2013 running on Windows 8.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Office Home and Business 2013, $219.99, one PC: The business license single-computer edition offers the same features as Home and Student 2013, but includes Outlook. Again, no Office 365 extras to be found here, but Microsoft clearly recognizes that forcing everybody to a subscription would be adverse to its bottom line.

Office Professional 2013, $399.99, one PC: The souped-up business license single-computer edition offers the same features as Home and Business 2013, but includes Access and Publisher. Like Home and Office 2013, it follows the traditional Office suite components and pricing.

There are enterprise versions of Office 365, as well, that include bulk licensing options such as group policy, telemetry, and contextual access to business and social networking.

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