Buying Microsoft Office

You can buy the current version of Microsoft Office is available in at least four different ways.  Which you do depends on who you are, and how many PCs you use.

You can either buy the software outright for one PC and use it forever, getting security updates but not program upgrades, or you can buy a subscription for a year that will work on upto 5 PCs and get both security updates and program upgrades.

  • Buying the software outright means you want to buy Microsoft Office 2013.
  • Buying the software on subscription means you want to buy Microsoft Office 365.

Microsoft Office 2013

If you buy Office 2013, you get a licence to use the program on one PC forever.  When you replace your PC, you keep the software and can use it on the new PC, but you can’t use it on two PCs at the same time (and no, you can’t alternate between two PCs either).

How much it costs depends who you are.

  • If you’re a home user, you can get Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Student (it doesn’t matter if you’re a student or not) – it costs about £95 inc VAT and will work on one PC forever.  You’ll get Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote (but not Outlook or Access)
  • If you’re using the software commercially, or if you want Outlook, you need Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Business – it costs £160-180 inc VAT and will work on one PC forever.  You’ll get Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and OneNote (but not Access)
  • In the unlikely event that you need Access as well, you need Microsoft Office 2013 Professional which is the same as the Home and Business version, but includes Access as well for £320.

No matter which licence of Office 2013 you buy, you’ll keep Office 2013 forever: when Microsoft release the next version of Office, you won’t get an upgrade.  You’ll only get security and stability updates for Office 2013.

Microsoft Office 365

If you buy Office 365, you get a licence to use the programs on 1 to 5 PCs for a year.  If you’re buying Office 365 to use at home, the five PCs need to belong to your household.  If you’re buying Office 365 for a business, the five PCs should belong to the same employee (ie you need three lots of Office 365 licences if you have three staff – not one licence between (upto) five staff).

Either the home or the business Office 365 licences are bought in year chunks: you can buy them from Microsoft directly, or from PC manufacturers like Novatech, or from mailorder places like Amazon.  However you buy it, there is no CD – you download it.  If you buy from Novatech you might get a card with a licence key on it, but if you buy from Amazon you just get a licence key in an email.

  • If you’re a home user with only one PC, you can get Office 365 Personal which is valid for one PC for one year.  It gives you Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Outlook and Access for about £50 from Amazon (it’s more expensive from Microsoft directly)
  • If you’re a home user, you can get Office 365 Home which is valid for upto five PCs for a year. It gives you Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Outlook and Access for about £65 per year from Amazon (it’s £79 from Microsoft)
  • If you’re a business user, you should get Office 365 Small Business.  It’s the same as Office 365 Home but includes “hosted Exchange” (ie, email with your own domain name hosted by Microsoft) for abour £135 per year.

No matter which version of Office 365 you buy, the idea is that you always have the latest version of Office.  Right now (page last updated March 2015) that means you’d get the Office 2013 software, but when Office 2015 or Office 2016 is released, you would automagically get updated to the latest version: your subscription is to “the newest version of Office”, not just “Office 2013”.  That’s the key difference between buying outright (keeping v2013 forever) and subscribing (getting updates all the time).


There is nothing to renew with Office 2013 because once you’ve bought a licence, it is yours to keep forever.  Office 365 must be renewed each year.  Microsoft prefer that you renew it with them – you can do if you like, they’ll store your credit card number and bill you each year – but it’s £79.99 with Microsoft for the Office 365 Home licence that most people use.

Instead of paying £79.99 to Microsoft, you can instead buy another year’s service for about £65 from Amazon.  You’ll end up with exactly the same thing – a year’s extra service added onto your existing licence, you just give £15 less to Amazon than you do Microsoft.

If you buy the licence from Amazon, you’ll go through their checkout from this £65 page and then at the end of the process you’ll get a licence key and a link to follow – nothing will arrive in the post.  When you click the link, you’ll be taken to Microsoft’s site where you’ll log in and the year’s service from Amazon will be credited to your Microsoft Office 365 account.

Think of it as like buying a topup for a prepay mobile phone: you don’t give the £10 to the mobile network, but a newsagent – but you get the £10 value from the network – buying an Office 365 renewal is just the same

Archived older Office versions

You can’t buy Microsoft Office 2010 or Office 2007 anymore, but the pages about the older versions are still available: