Top Office 365 questions answered

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A week ago today, Office 365 Home Premium launched worldwide, giving busy people and families new ways to get more done at home, at school and on the go. From customer events in New York, Sao Paulo, Toronto, London and other major cities around the globe, as well as via social media, we’ve received a few common questions about what is included in Office 365 Home Premium and the fastest ways to get started with the new service. We wanted to answer some of those top questions right here.

What is the difference between Office 365 and Office 2013?

The new Office has been updated with a host of new capabilities, cloud connection and social features. It is available two different ways:

  • Office 365 is our services brand. Office 365 Home Premium is the first Office subscription service for consumers. It includes a complete set of Office applications (i.e., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access); works across up to five devices (Windows tablets, PCs and Macs); and includes additional SkyDrive storage and Skype calling. Because Office 365 services are always improving, subscribers receive new features and services as soon as they are ready, ensuring they are always up to date and don’t have to be hassled with upgrades.
  • Office editions, such as Office Home and Student 2013, are designated by a year model and are current as of that year model (just like a car). These editions include different applications depending on what you need, and are ideal for people who only have one machine.

Which should I get: Office 365 Home Premium or a traditional Office 2013 edition?

Here is some general buying advice:

Subscription is probably right if you:

  • Have three or more devices (Windows tablets, PCs or Macs) in your household
  • Are a university student
  • Want the very latest technology, upgrade your devices frequently (three years or faster), or use Outlook, Publisher or Access

A traditional Office 2013 edition is probably right if you have two or fewer devices in your household.

Does Office 365 only work in the browser? Do I have to be online?

No and no. Office 365 combines the power of Office with the flexibility of the cloud. As a subscriber, you are using full Office applications that ‘stream’ from the cloud and ‘roam’ across your devices. Just as you might subscribe to services such as Spotify or Netflix for entertainment anywhere, subscribing to Office 365 means your personal content goes wherever you go. The key difference is that with Office 365, you don’t have to be online. Office 365 Home Premium runs just fine without a connection.  Your docs in SkyDrive can sync locally, so you can always get to them, even when you’re disconnected. 

Can I use Office 365 Home Premium on my Mac?

Yes. Office 365 Home Premium can be used across up to five devices, including Macs, Windows tablets or PCs. Mac users will start out with Office for Mac 2011, which is updated to include activation for Office 365 Home Premium. To download and install Office for Mac 2011, subscribers simply go to  (Note:  Office for Mac 2011 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and requires OSX 6.0+.)

A new Office for Mac is coming, and typically, it’s been available roughly a year after Office for Windows.  As a subscriber to Office 365 Home Premium, you will automatically get the new Office for Mac when it’s available.

What happens if I cancel my subscription? Do I lose all my content?

Your content is always your content. After an Office 365 subscription expires, you can still access your docs whenever you choose, and you can use the Office Web Apps to create, read, edit and share your stuff. Although the full Office applications go into ‘reduced-functionality mode,’ you can still use them to read and print your Office documents. If you’re using more than the free 7GB of SkyDrive storage, you can expand that for $10/year or move your content after the Office 365 subscription has expired.

Can I work from home if I have Office 365 Home Premium?

You may be able to use Office for work at home if your employer has licensed you appropriately through a number of work-at-home options.  If you use Office at work, it’s likely you can use it at home, and with Office 365 Home Premium, you would just sign in with your OrgID.  If you’re uncertain, your best bet is to ask your employer.

 If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have Office as part of work, you should look at Office 365 Small Business Premium, launching next month on Feb. 27. It has a lot of the same capabilities, cloud connections and social features as Office 365 Home Premium and includes email from your domain, business-grade collaboration and a web site for your business.

How will it help save me time?

Office 365 Home Premium combines the full power of the newly-updated Office with the flexibility of the cloud. Your information is always close wherever you are on all your devices. It gives you increased flexibility to get things done when you want on your terms. To see some great examples, check out Time to 365, a crowd-sourced website with tips and tricks from pros and everyday working parents who have found ways to simplify their lives.  

We’re happy to take more of your questions here in the comments section. You can also ask @Office on Twitter. In the meantime, if you want to explore on your own, there’s some great info and the option to try Office 365 Home Premium free for 30 days at

–Clint Patterson, Office Team

  1. And how about coming up with some definite information about Office 365 Small Business Premium, so that we can plan ahead? Like international pricing for instance! And why even have that silly delay. Office 2013 has been ready for months – you have had plenty of time to put the necessary infrastructure in place.

  2. The licensing model should be simplified even more in my opinion. If we purchase your software/services, why are we limited to how we use it? Many people purchase Office for home, and do homework from their full-time jobs on their home computers. Also, what about individuals who have a home office or freelancers? The Small Business version doesn’t sound like a plan they would need, but "Office Home and Business" suite sounds like the right plan, but there’s no Office 365 plan for those types of users. There needs to be a "Home and Business" plan for Office 365, as "Small business" is meant for full small businesses. What if I have a home office and want to share my 5 device licenses with my family? I can’t do that, because of the non-commercial policy. To simplify things, instead of "Home Premium"… the Office 365 plans should be "Home and Student", "Home and Business", "Small Business Pro".

    • Clint Patterson

      Thanks for your feedback. We’ll definitely take this into account as we look at options in the future.

  3. @thaman04: You are right – that stupid "non-commercial use only" policy needs to go. If I pay for the software (in any way!) I have the right to use it however I want to. What’s next? Will you need a special long document edition if you’re writing a book? Or would that be the long document edition for commercial use?

  4. scottbreen

    While I understand the current licensing, it would be beneficial to have a home subscription option that also allows you to work from home. I currently work for an organization that is covered by an Enterprise Agreement that includes Office. This allows me to buy office for a reduced rate as part of the home use program, which is great – for one device. It would be great if there was a more flexible option that allowed me to have an Office 365 subscription for all my home devices that allowed me (legally) to work on my work documents from time to time, even if I had to pay slightly more. A subscription model for small business without cloud hosted email, etc, would also be beneficial. Obviously you guys have done significant market research and perhaps me scenarios aren’t considered to be big enough to warrant allowances in licensing.

    If I’ve misunderstood the licensing, please let me know!

    • Clint Patterson

      Scott, I think you’ve got the licensing info right. It may be worth checking with your employer whether the use rights you have apply only to a copy of Office you buy for yourself. In most cases, those use rights apply to the user, not the bits.

      But, generally, I hear your feedback and will share it internally.

  5. Will documents created in Office 365 be backward compatible with Office 2010? I ask in the event that I either don’t like 365 or choose not to renew my subscription.

    • Clint Patterson

      Dave, yes, docs you create in 365 are backward compatible with 2010. One big advantage of Office 365 is you an install it alongside an older version. So, you can keep 2010 on your machine alongside the new apps. You can also give Office 365 a free 30 day trial to test it out yourself.

  6. If I now got 27GB on my Skydrive, will I get 47GB with an Office 365 subscription?

    • Yes. Your SkyDrive will increase by 20gb to 47gb so long as you are a subscriber.

  7. Thanks for the informative post. I have a couple of question about Office 365 Home Premium that I’m hoping you can answer, or at least point me to where I can get the answer. Here’s the scenario:

    My wife, daughter, and I share three Windows 7 Pro computers. Or I should say, we will soon; I’m setting up a network with a Windows Server 2012 Essentials server, a desktop, and two laptops. If I subscribe to Office 365 Home Premium using my Microsoft Account, I understand that I can install it on all three of our Windows 7 computers using the single MS Account. My wife and daughter do not have an MS Account and have no interest in one. They will just want to use Office locally and save files to our server as they always have (at least for now). I understand that we can have Office save locally instead of to SkyDrive.

    My questions are:

    1) If my daughter, for example, logs on to a laptop with her own Active Directory credentials (not mine), will she be able to just open and use Office installed on the laptop without needing to enter Microsoft Account credentials? In other words, will it work just like a "normal" local installation of Office?

    2) Since Office will be installed using my Microsoft Account credentials, would my daughter be able to access my files in SkyDrive without entering the credentials? In other words, would Office somehow be automatically tied to my Microsoft Account without the need to re-enter credentials?

    Any light you can shed on sharing an Office 365 Home Premium subscription in this way will help me make a decision as to how to purchase Office for our new setup. Thanks!

    • Clint Patterson

      Bron, good questions!

      1) You are correct. She would be able to use Office just like a "normal" local installation. You can really have as many accounts log into Office on those three machines as is needed for the family.
      2) If she is using the same machine on which you have signed into Office (and not signed out), then yes, she would be able to access your documents on SkyDrive. A simple option might be to create a free MSFT account, and then she can save her docs to her own SkyDrive (or locally of course).

      I hope that helps. Let us know if you have more questions. You sound like a pretty good candidate for Home Premium, since you have 3 PCs on which you want to use Office.

  8. stevefitzpatrick

    Guys, can you please explain why you have locked Australians into working with Telstra if we want to buy and use Office 365?

    Not only is the monthly fee higher for Australian users, but office professional plus as a subscription is more than double the cost for Australian users at $26.90 p/month!!

    Aside from the pricing, Telstra is renown for providing terrible customer service.


    I subscribe to SAAS for a whole lot of products and pay US prices month in and out. Why can’t I do the same for Office 365! Please look at changing this ASAP. I want to use office 365 but I DON’T want to pay more than I have to, or use Telstra if I don’t have to.

    • Clint Patterson

      TypicalBusiness, you can get Office 365 Home Premium or University from a number of retailers in Australia or from Microsoft directly. There is no limitation to Telstra-only for these consumer products.

      For business customers, we do have an exclusive partnership with Telstra around Office 365 for businesses. Telstra provides an integrated package that many customers value, but I hear your feedback and will share it with our AU team.

    • cliveflint

      Getting stuf to Australia is a long and arduous process requiring extra man power. That means they can charge you extra. If you moved somewhere closer to the civilised world it might be cheaper. 😉

  9. HI, I dont understand why the user thaman04 says : "Small business" is meant for full small businesses. cant i use it for job purpose or study ??

    what option should i buy if i want to work from home, manage my small business, and also do any other thing not related to work??

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