Q. Microsoft keeps threatening to disable Word and Excel in a few days unless I pay $70 for the Office 365 yearly renewal. I don’t care about the latest features since not much has changed in the past year. How do I get around this and get rid of the pop-up box every time I open Word or Excel?
A. Microsoft offers a few different versions of its Office suite, and the Office 365 edition is subscription-based — so think of it more as a rental and less of an outright purchase. To get rid of the pop-up boxes and be assured of functioning desktop software when you need it, you must renew the subscription for the $69.99 annual fee for Office 365 Personal. Or you can switch to Office Home & Student 2016 for the one-time purchase price of $149.99.
The Office Home & Student 2016 version includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Once you install it on your computer, you get 60 days of telephone support, and will receive security updates through extended support until 2025. However, you will not get automatically upgraded to Microsoft’s next major release of its Office suite. If you just need basic word-processing and spreadsheet software, this version should fill your needs for the next few years and you will not get annually nagged to renew a subscription.
There are some advantages to the Office 365 subscription. These include updated features each month, a terabyte of online storage for your files on Microsoft’s OneDrive servers, and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month to landlines and mobile phones (in addition to computer-to-computer and device-to-device communications). Technical support by phone or online chat is available for as long as you subscribe.
For those who have very simple word processing and spreadsheet needs, for things like letters, reports and simple budgets, the free, web-based Office Online is another option, although you need an internet connection to use it. Apple’s iWork for iCloud, Dropbox Paper and Google Docs and Zoho Workplace are similar web-based offerings, and LibreOffice is a free alternative you can download and install on your computer.
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