Office 2013 For Small Business: How To Choose Your Package

The latest version of Microsoft Office is all set to release for general public on January 29, 2013. The software is already available to Microsoft TechNet subscribers and for OEM. People purchasing branded computers after Jan 2013 can expect computers preloaded with Office 2013. You can still buy computers with Office 2010 and avail the offer from Microsoft to upgrade it to 2013 for free – that is, if you buy new Office 2010 software before April 2013.

Office 2013 For Small Business – Highest Selling Edition

As per my observation, the highest selling edition of Office 2013 would be the Office Home and Student 2013 RT edition. This observation is based on the fact that the Office Home and Student 2013 RT edition is best suited for Windows 8 RT tablets. Not many may go for Windows 8 Pro tablets because the RT serves them well enough.

For people who “actually” need the Pro version, Home and Student 2013 RT edition will not suffice. This edition does not include many of the main features of MS Office 2013. The Home and Student 2013 RT edition is meant for people who need a local installation of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for use with or without cloud and at the same time, provides them high mobility so that they can work/collaborate from anywhere.

Office 2013 Editions For Small Business

The Home and Student RT 2013 Office does not include Microsoft Outlook – which now is not just an email and scheduler but also the perfect collaboration software for teams of any size!  The web version of Outlook – the new and enhanced, offers almost the same services. Other than e-mail management features, offers creating, publishing and sharing calendars plus tasks. For those who opt for the RT version can use the Outlook webmail if they are not already using an on premise email service.

Talking of Office 2013 editions for small businesses, it is necessary to mention that Office 2013 integrates with Office 365 to help you stay mobile and implement “Work From Anywhere” concept. The Professional Plus edition is too heavy and slows down low configuration machines. Then, there are plenty of features one would not require for maintaining a group of 50 employees or less.

Microsoft released a slide few days back to make it easier for small business owners to select their editions of Office 2013. I am pasting that slide here for your reference. Note that the slide assumes you know about Office 365 – the cloud Office offer from Microsoft that we discuss right after the image.

MS Slide

This slide was released a few days ago to assist small business owners in making their choice as to which Office 2013 to buy for their business. Based on the above slide, we have the following two choices for small businesses:

  1. Invest $ 219 per computer or
  2. Invest $ 369 per computer

The difference looks minor at this point. But when you are bulk purchasing, for say 20 computers, you invest more. In case of 20 computers, the difference goes up to $ 50 x 20 = $ 1000. Buying via authorized vendors will surely give you some discount on bulk purchases – so whatever you choose, check out the offers available with different vendors if you go for any of the two suites suggested by Microsoft for small businesses.

Office 365 For Small Business – Do You Need Office 2013 On Premises?

Microsoft Office 365 provides you with the latest Office Apps that you need not install on your computer. You can go for Office 365 to save money on installation of latest Office versions. Since they are subscription services, you just need to calculate the yearly costs against the benefits you are receiving from the subscription. Please see the image below for features available and pricing comparison on Office 365 plans for small businesses.

Office 365 Plans Comparison

Based on my research, I prefer Office 365 over any standalone Office 2013 packages. Office 365 P1 (see image above) is ideal for real time collaboration and remote access to the files while eliminating the need for local installations unless you really need MS Outlook!

Best Suitable Office 2013 For Small Business

If you ask me, I will suggest plan P1 to start with as it comes with a 90 day free trial and includes almost all the features a small business needs. Since it already offers you cloud based Office apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for both viewing and editing, you can combine it with your local email infrastructure or with the web version of Outlook that we talked above!

If you want more features, you can get the Office Home and Student 2013 RT edition. The method will save you a significant amount of money while allowing you to implement the “work from anywhere, anytime” concept!

Since you will be in the testing mode, I recommend trying the plan on a part of your computer network. If you think you will go for it, you can then decide upon the costs of upgrading (if any) and then implement the combo on the entire network. As such, there should not be any additional overheads except for data transfer.

Note: If you wish to use local MS Outlook and/or if you need more applications such as MS Access, etc, Office 365 – E2 will provide you with five licenses of full Office 2013 Professional Plus edition. That is, for each user, you get five computers running full-fledged Office 2013 at around USD 20 per month. That would cost you some USD 100 for 25 computers combining the power of Office 2013 with cloud! Again, with this package, comes a 30 day trial free so you can check it out on a part of your network before migrating.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN


  1. NoIE

    The only issue with Office 365 is Microsoft is forcing you to use IE. They will continue to alienate the other browsers and make us use IE. I have two words for that, but can’t repeat it here.

  2. Jeniffer Maben

    I always look forward to enhance office productivity by using office suites.Plan E1 is enough for mid size organizations. Currently we are using CD Messenger ( to some advanced features.

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