2014 IT Budget: Add Microsoft Office for Mac to the List

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Microsoft office has been around for a very long time. Although it has powered offices around the world for decades now, many businesses still find themselves unsure about using a product that many view as intrinsically Windows-based on their Mac officer equipment. 

Microsoft Office For Mac

What some people are not aware of, however, is that Microsoft Office was available for Mac long before it began appearing on Microsoft machines. In fact, 1985 saw Word 1 appearing on the Mac OS. With this in mind, it becomes clear that there is a long relationship between Microsoft Office and Mac.  

The best reasons to think about adding Microsoft Office to business IT budgets for 2014. 

Office 365 is a Game Changer

In 2014, there has been a lot of talk about Microsoft Office 365, and for good reason. 

The intent of Office 365 is to mesh the eminent usability and power of the Office suite of utilities with the increasingly popular cloud. 

There are no installation disks, no boxes, and no physical product. The intent is to create a powerful platform for Mac-using businesses to create and share content, no matter the location. It gives businesses the ability to push and pull content from the cloud, greatly increasing accessibility to documents for businesses and their employees. 

  • A powerful content creation and delivery platform. 
  • By using the cloud, Office 365 offers unrivalled document accessibility.

Using the Cloud

The cloud – an evocative term for off-site file hosting, is becoming an ever-important part of business in virtually every market. 

Office 365 makes use of Microsoft’s cloud service – SkyDrive. Uploading files makes them accessible to any member of the business with the right access, eliminating the great office bane of lost or misplaced documents. 

In addition, mobiles devices such as smart phones and tablets can access documents on the fly. This makes it infinitely easier for roaming employees to upload and receive important documents, wherever, whenever. 

However, the business still has the option to store their files locally if they so wish. For sensitive files that the business feels more comfortable storing locally, this is ideal.

  • Office 365’s use of cloud makes it easy for business members to pull and upload documents anytime, anywhere. 
  • SkyDrive makes it easy for roaming employees to stay in touch and access the latest documents and information. 
  • Businesses can still store files locally, if they want to. 
  • Great Accessibility

Office 365 offers such great accessibility because it understands that modern business takes place across many arenas and uses many different devices. The days of employees tethered to desks are well and truly over. 

This is why Office 365 works in conjunction with Office Web Apps. 

Office Web Apps is a free application that works on mobile devices of all kinds that do not have Office 365. It is a limited version of Office 365, through which the user can edit and save documents to SkyDrive. 

Web Apps and Office 365 work together to create total accessibility for the user, allowing documents to flow to and from each other via the cloud. 

  • Microsoft has legislated for the fluid, roaming modern business. 
  • Office 365 works together with Office Web Apps – a portable, limited version of Office for mobile devices. 
  • Documents flow from Office 365 and Web Apps, with SkyDrive in between.

The Costs

Microsoft splits the costing of Office 365 between businesses that have a maximum of 25 users and those that have more. 

This is good for the small business, as they can save money rather than paying a flat fee that does not take into account their size. 

The Office 365 Small Business plan, for 25 users or less, costs £3.90 per month or £39.60 per user, per year. This includes five subscriptions per user for PCs or Macs, Office Web Apps.

Office 365 Small Business Premium will cost £10.10 per user, per month or £100.80 for a yearly subscription, per user.    

The midsize plan accommodates up to 300 users for £9.80 a month, whilst the Enterprise plan runs at £15.00 per user, per month and is for an unlimited number of users. 

Different Plans, Different Programmes

Depending on the plan that the business goes for, there are a couple of programmes omitted. 

The standard small business plans come with Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint. They do not, however, receive Access, OneNote or Publisher. 

The higher scale plans come with all of the above programmes. 

Formats

One of the great concerns of businesses might be how well Office 365 interacts with documents from older versions of Office. This, however, is not a big problem. 

Documents created with Office 2010 and 2013 work with no problems whatsoever. Microsoft has ensured that total functionality and formatting remains between versions. Documents from Office 2007 may suffer with some lost functionality, but essentially should remain usable. 

Office 2003 documents, however, will not translate over. 

A great feature of Office 365 is the fact that other users – even if they do not have Office, can view documents on SkyDrive. They just need an invite and they are in. 

  • Documents made with Office 2007, 2010 and 2013 will work with Office 365. Only 2007 documents might show some loss in functionality. 
  • Office 2003 documents cannot function with Office 365, however. 
  • A user who does not have Office or a SkyDrive account can still see content with an invite. 

The Verdict

Office 365 offers flexibility and functionality that no other office suite can match. If a business has remote or roaming workers, Office 365 keeps them in close touch with the business. 

From the ground up, Office 365 is about modern business and the multiple devices that people need to use to access information today. 

For any business looking for a flexible, powerful document management solution for their Mac infrastructure, there is no better choice. 

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