What is The Difference Between Office 365 and Office 2013?

Adam Lacey Aug 24, 2014

What is Office 365? And how is it different from Office 2013? This is certainly a question we at Filtered have been asked a few times so I will do my best in this blog post to answer it for you.

For individual users, Office 365 offers the full desktop versions of Office 2013 plus a few added extras like online data storage in Sky Drive and 60 minutes a month of international calling. The main difference is that Office 365 is a subscription based service or Software as a Service (SaaS) and not the one off payment for a piece of software you then keep forever as before.


The confusing thing for a lot of people is that until Office 2013 was released, Office 365 didn’t include the Office package downloads, in fact it was something that was only really applicable to businesses as it was an online subscription package that provided things like email, shared calendars, web conferencing, the ability to edit and change documents online and even your own public website. Now what Microsoft have done is taken the name Office 365 and created both a Home and Business version.

Office 365

The Home version of Office 365 is basically Office 2013 as a subscription. You don’t get all the business functionality mentioned above but you do get online storage and some free Skype calls. It’s pretty affordable and there are options to pay monthly or annually.

Taken from here and correct on 24th August 2014

The business version of Office 365 includes more desktop based software such as Microsoft Lync as well as a public website, file sharing through OneDrive and online conferencing. Basically a lot of the stuff Office 365 included before but now you have all the desktop software applications as well. These are available as a monthly subscription on a per user basis.

Taken from here and correct as of 24th August 2014

Office 2013

Office 2013 is very much like all previous versions of Office, you purchase the software outright and when a new version is released (Office 2015?!) then you need to pay for that. With subscription based Office 365 you get the new versions of programmes as they are released. In what looks like an attempt to drive more people to Office 365 you now only get a licence for one PC meaning if you are a family with more than one computer the one-off Office 2013 purchase is a far more expensive prospect.

Taken from here and correct on 24th August 2014

So which is better? Office 365 or Office 2013?

Undoubtedly Office 365 has been put together to be the more attractive offering for businesses, families or individuals. Subscription based services are becoming the norm and it makes a lot of sense for Microsoft to follow this pattern. You pay monthly for access to services like Netflix, why not for your Microsoft Excel software?

The issue for us as consumers is to ensure we get the best possible value, and I think that by having more options to choose from when making a purchase certainly helps. Before committing to an upgrade to Office 365 or Office 2013 take a look at how you currently use the programmes. If you are an individual, very occasional user of Microsoft Word or Excel and are not really fussed about having the most up to date version then maybe the basic Office 2013 package will work out better value for you as you could realistically use the software for 3-5 years without needing or wanting to upgrade. The Filtered 2003 Excel training is still used by a surprising number of people for example. If you are a family with 3 different machines and a tablet and you want access to Microsoft Publisher as well then an Office 365 subscription will undoubtedly work out better value for you.

If you are a business then you can buy Office 2013 packages for each PC you have but it makes very little sense given that it would take years to spend the equivalent on an Office 365 subscription and a couple of new MS Office versions may have been released by then. Plus the extra features you get as a business do make it a far superior offering. Here at Filtered we have an Office 365 subscription and for our company of 25 it works really well and is certainly simpler than buying licence keys for Microsoft Office as staff have joined.

So, what is the difference between Office 365 and Office 2013? In one, very simple sentence:

Office 365 is the new way we pay for our Microsoft Software

For more information, take a look at the Microsoft 365 FAQ pages

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