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Is Office 2013 a wise choice to buy in an office with minimal Internet connectivity?

Posted on 2013-01-31
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Last Modified: 2013-02-07
I am about to deliver 1 dozen laptops to a hospital in Tanzania.  In Tanzania, Internet connectivity is expensive and often non-existent.

Should I buy Office 2013, to be used in an environment with minimal Internet connectivity?  My other options are to stick with Office 2003 for now (which would save me a lot of money), or to buy standalone versions of Office 2010.  Thanks.
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Question by:Dwight Baer
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 38841441
It would seem that the subscription mode is something out of the question. There are standalone versions of office 2013.  If the customer can benefit from the improved features of the software package just because they are in an internet backwater doesn't mean that they need to be also in a technology backwater.

Office 2000 would be even cheaper, so would 486dx computers with vga monitors be cheaper.. But there is a line in the sand that one must draw.. the customer can have all of the advantages of a local network and use cutting edge hardware/software it all comes down to available funding and resources.
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by:Dwight Baer
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ID: 38841519
Thanks ve3ofa.  

Here is the link for a comparison of the Office products:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca/buy/compare-microsoft-office-products-subscription-plans-FX102898564.aspx

Basically, the standalone Office Home and Student 2013 costs $139 for one license.  On the other hand, Office 365 Home Premium costs $99 for 5 licenses, per year.  That's $20 per year per machine.

The question still is, will Office 365 Home Premium work satisfactorily when offline?  What did you mean "It would seem that the subscription mode is something out of the question. "  Do you know what exactly would be unavailable when the Internet is down?  I can think of a few obvious things:

- access to any document stored in the cloud
- any collaboration with anybody over a document (same point as above)
- renewing of the subscription (which only needs to happen once per year)
- Online help
(- We could do the initial installation here in North America before we ship the machines to Tanzania)
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by:Dwight Baer
Dwight Baer earned 0 total points
ID: 38842462
Here's a better link for comparison of the Office products:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca/products/office-frequently-asked-questions-FX102926087.aspx 

To answer my own question:
"We use the name "Office 365" for products that include features enabled over the internet, such as additional online storage with SkyDrive, Skype world minutes for home use, Lync web conferencing or Exchange Online hosted email for businesses."

But it seems clear that even if you don't use SkyDrive, Skype, Lync web conferencing or Exchange Online ... the difference between $20 per computer and $139 per computer makes it a no-brainer to purchase Office 365.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca/buy/compare-microsoft-office-products-subscription-plans-FX102898564.aspx
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by:Dwight Baer
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Any further comments?  My conclusion is to purchase Office 365 at 1/7 the price per license.  And once it's installed, I don't believe it will matter that there's no Internet connectivity as long as I store my documents locally.
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David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 38842506
Office 365 requires periodic license updating or it will go into reduced functionality mode.
 Is Internet access required for Office?

A. Internet access is required to install and activate all the latest releases of Office suites and all Office 365 plans. After purchase, you must visit www.office.com/setup to enter a product key and create an account (using a Microsoft account).
For subscription versions of Office including Office 365 Home Premium you will need to go online to manage your subscription account, for example to install Office on other machines, or to change billing options. You will also need to connect to the Internet regularly to keep your version of Office up-to-date and benefit from automatic upgrades. Internet connectivity is also required to access Office 365 offerings such as SkyDrive and Skype world minutes.
http://bit.ly/VyNrg2

This takes only seconds to confirm the activation so internet access is required.  This is to prevent someone from buying a yearly subscription and then cancelling and keeping the software active for the remainder of the year.
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by:Dwight Baer
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ID: 38842599
Hmmm... What do you think?  If I purchase a full year's subscription, for $99, and then install the software on 5 machines as allowed, will each of those 5 machines need to "check in" with MS once a month?  Or maybe just one person needs to "check in" with MS once a month, and the 4 other machines can happily use their Office subscription without Internet access?

Attached ... Proof that MS will accept payment for a full year in advance.
Evidence-that-MS-will-accept-pay.pdf
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38850041
Here is something we may have overlooked!!
Only one person at a time may use the software on each licensed computer or licensed device.  The service/software may not be used for commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities.

http://www.zdnet.com/what-cios-need-to-know-about-office-365-home-premium-7000010491/
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Author Comment

by:Dwight Baer
ID: 38850893
What do you mean "only one person at a time may use the software?"  Are you talking about remote access somehow, with two people working together on one machine?

I read at http://www.zdnet.com/what-cios-need-to-know-about-office-365-home-premium-7000010491/ :
"Although you need an Internet connection to install the Office programs, you don't have to be online to use them."

So I think it is reasonable to assume that if I were to purchase a one-year subscription and pay for the year (i.e. not pay by the month), then each of my 5 machines could happily operate offline for a year without connecting online.

Our reason for deciding not to go with the subscription in Tanzania is, these machines often get filled with viruses and need to be re-installed or re-imaged.  In the case of re-installation, then we would have to connect to the Internet for another licensing renewal and a 380-MB patches download.  I myself would have been comfortable that the re-imaging scenario (rather than re-installation) could have avoided most of that hassle.  But my colleagues decided that in this case it's easier to go with Office 2003, which is actually all that is needed for most of these users.
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38850921
The service/software may not be used for commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities.  This is the part that I found possibly problematic.  Glad you have a solution though.
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Author Comment

by:Dwight Baer
ID: 38850988
I guess when software is installed on a server, it can be used by more than person at a time when they connect to that machine.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Dwight Baer
ID: 38863269
I have concluded not to buy Office 365 for the computers in a remote part of Tanzania, but I'm still curious with regard to how often a machine needs to "check in" with Microsoft in order to remain licensed, assuming that a yearly subscription has been purchased.
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