For years now, Microsoft Office has become the standard software suite for consumers and businesses alike. This is with good reason – Microsoft Office continues to offer three of the most useful and recognisable software programs in the world in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

There's a new version of Office coming out: read all about Office 2019.

In years gone by, the best (and only) way to get Office was to buy a CD-ROM (remember those?) for a one-off price and install it onto your PC or laptop. Later, the same price moved over to a download system as broadband became the norm.

Nowadays, Office is nearly exclusively available as a download-only piece of software but available to buy outright or as a monthly subscription. There are advantages to opting for both options.

Bear in mind that any Office product under the ‘365’ umbrella is subscription based, referring as it does to the number of days in a year. Any Office product without ‘365’ in its name is likely to be a one-off purchase – good if you only want to pay once, but you won’t be able to upgrade the software with online updates like you can with 365 subscriptions.

There are also several different versions of Office available, and you should choose the best one for you depending on your needs.

First we will break down Office options if you are buying for personal home or student use, and then go on to the options if you are buying it for work or use within a small business. Here’s our Microsoft Office 2016 price and buying guide.

How much does Office 2016 cost?

Microsoft sells a product called Office Home to the individual consumer (i.e. probably you). There is also a version called Office Personal. The only difference here is that Home lets you install Office on five PCs plus five tablets; Personal is for just one PC and one tablet.

Office 365 Home

  • For 5 PCs plus 5 tablets
  • 1TB cloud storage per user for 5 users
  • 60 minutes monthly Skype calls per user
  • Ongoing access to updates
  • Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, OneDrive, Skype

£79.99 per year or £7.99 per month

Office 365 Personal

  • For 1 PC plus 1 tablet
  • 1TB cloud storage per user for 5 users
  • 60 minutes monthly Skype calls for 1 user
  • Ongoing access to updates
  • Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, OneDrive, Skype

£59.99 per year or £5.99 per month

If you need Office for you and your family, the extra £20 per year or £2 per month is definitely worth it – you’ll be able to install the software on a total of 10 devices rather than two.

Office 365 University

Guess what this one is for? Directed at students, it’s an amazing deal giving you four years for the price of one. Here’s what you get:

  • For any 2 devices (PC or tablet)
  • 1TB cloud storage for one year
  • 60 minutes monthly Skype calls for 1 user
  • Ongoing access to updates
  • Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, OneDrive, Skype

Student only price – you have to provide some student details at point of sale to register for the price.

£59.99 for 4 years access

Office Home and Student 2016

If you would prefer to pay a one-off price for Office 2016, this is the package for you. You lose the automatic software updates of Office 365, but means that you can technically use the software for years without being tied into a subscription.

  • The one-off purchase gets you:
  • For one PC only
  • Store files in the cloud with OneDrive
  • View, share and edit documents online
  • Bear in mind that compared to 365, you only get Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. A clear sign Microsoft wants you to use 365.

£119.99 one-off purchase

Microsoft Office Home and Business 2016: What are the options?

As well as the Home and Student Office packages discussed above, Microsoft also offers business-minded versions of its software.

Be sure to note what parts of the Office suite are included in each version. Each are, somewhat frustratingly, different. 

It offers 365 subscriptions for business users:

Office 365 Business from £7 per user per month

  • Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher

Office 365 Business Premium from £7.80 per user per month

  • Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Skype

It also offers one-off purchases for small businesses:

Office Home and Business 2016 for £229.99

  • Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote

Office Professional 2016 for £389.99

  • Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher

This last one seems a ridiculously high price for a one-off purchase – further signs that Office 365 is the way to go for businesses as well as the individual.