Microsoft's flagship suite of productivity software has been given an overhaul for 2013. Among the changes are more touch-centric controls for users taking advantage of Windows 8's touch features as well as improved integration with SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service.
Perhaps the biggest change to Office is Office 365 -- it's not new software, but a new pricing model. Rather than pay a one-off fee of $139 for your single copy of Office (or more, depending on which option you want), Office 365 costs $199 a year for up to five machines. This annual fee gives you, Microsoft promises, a steady stream of upgrades that the standalone product won't receive -- especially in later years. In other words, an Office 365 subscription is a ticket to a fully up-to-date version of Microsoft Office, indefinitely.
The real question is whether it's worth it to pay for productivity software (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.) in an era of free, open-source alternatives. On this, reviewers were on the fence. If your work or personal life requires serious text editing, PowerPoint creation or spreadsheet creation, then the answer appears to be yes, you need the Microsoft Office. Casual letter writers, however, can get almost all of the functionality in free cloud software like Google Docs.
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