To subscribe or not to subscribe? That is the question Microsoft Office users must answer for themselves as Microsoft has changed the way people can access their software.  The shift to subscription services by Microsoft is part of a larger trend of software companies changing the method by which they sell their products.  While the traditional methods of purchasing the software are still available, the company is also offering annual subscriptions.

Subscribing to Microsoft Office

The Office 365 launch at Citi Pond Bryant Park in New York City

If you are someone who would prefer to stick with the traditional method of delivery, you can purchase Office suite for $140 for the basics including programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The expanded version which includes all of the aforementioned programs plus Publisher, Access and Outlook, is $400.  Or, if you are ready to jump on board with Microsoft’s subscription plan, you can get a yearly subscription for $100 a year. The annual plan is called Office 365 and can be downloaded on up to five computers.

The subscription option certainly has its ups and downs. Of course, if you cease paying for the subscription you will no longer be able to edit or create new documents, though you can still open and print them. While some may not like the idea of paying a yearly fee yet not owning the program outright, others may appreciate the benefits of always having the updated version.  The subscriptions provides users with the latest version available.  Subscription services also include a 20 gigabyte bonus of extra storage space on Microsoft’s SkyDrive, as well as one free hour of Skype to phone calls per month.

If you are trying to weigh the pros and cons of the subscription, you can take it for a test drive.  Microsoft offers a free, one month trial of Office 365. You can even download it onto five computers during your free trial.

[Image via microsoft]