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Why Office 365 is right for my family

Today’s post is from Suzanne Emberton, a mother of six and full-time IT support analyst in Tennessee. Suzanne is an avid Office user, and in this post, she explains why Office 365 Home Premium is the right fit for her busy family.

Office 365 for familyI am busy. VERY busy. Not only do I have a large family of 4 kids and 2 step kids, I work full-time and volunteer often. I’m also a self-professed geek, so I am always looking for ways to make my life easier through technology. One amazing tool I’ve found to help my busy life is Office 365 Home Premium. With one subscription, I get all the Office products on up to five devices! Since our family seems to have 2 or more devices per person, this gives us plenty of Office goodness to spread around.

Traditional Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even Outlook are basics I’ve always known and loved. Outlook is my family planning hub. I can easily sort through work and personal email quickly and I manage my calendars and tasks lists here as well. Outlook 2013 has great features like Quick Steps that make managing email a breeze. With an account at Outlook.com, all of the information syncs to the cloud and back to my Windows Phone, so I’m always connected to this essential information. I call it my brain, because I’d be lost without it!

Word and PowerPoint are used extensively in our home as well, for school reports and projects. The kids adore the new feature that allows you to search and insert images from Bing directly into the document. With their Microsoft accounts and SkyDrive making cloud storage so easy, they have access to their documents anywhere. My step-daughter has even started work on an essay for school in Word on her Windows Phone. She saved the initial draft to her SkyDrive and opened it in Word on our desktop at home to finalize it. As the official family proof-reader, the ability to share and manage these documents anywhere makes assisting with homework a much easier task for me. We even have the grandparents helping with homework now through using Skype video chat and sharing and editing a PowerPoint presentation together. Talk about family collaboration!

The Office 365 subscription also comes with a few applications that weren’t traditionally available for a Home and Student license scenario, Publisher and Access. Publisher is fabulous for creating flyers, newsletters, invitations and more. In our family, it has saved us from late night trips to the store, when invitations for a birthday party were needed by the next morning! A diverted family argument equals a happier home! Access is also great for creating databases, such as family heirloom recipes or DVD inventories. Templates on Office.com make getting started with this powerful program super easy.

My favorite program in the Office 365 Home Premium package though, is by far OneNote. With OneNote, I am attempting to go paperless in our home. I keep our chore lists, grocery lists, scans of important documents, scans and pictures of the kids art projects, scans of owner’s manuals to all those electronics and appliances we seem to accumulate, scans of various teacher notes and school reminders and more. I spend a little time each week scanning this stuff into OneNote and it keeps the mountain of paperwork in our house down to a much more manageable pile.

With OneNote on my computer, and my notebooks stored in the cloud and OneNote on my Windows Phone, I have access to all this information everywhere. The rest of the family also has access to the shared notebook and can add items during the week that they need, like notebook paper or shampoo. I make my grocery list at my desk computer, and then head off to the store, with my list on the phone. No more scrap paper or forgotten lists on the fridge!

At only $99 a year, it is a great value as we can easily share one license between all of our household computers and keeps us up to date with the latest Office. I feel like Office 365 Home Premium helps makes me a better mom overall and more focused on the relationships in our house, not keeping up with schedules, schoolwork and the mountain of paper. Office 365 Home Premium has been an amazing tool for our family that makes technology actually useful!

–Suzanne Emberton