You might think that “which laptops come with Microsoft Office?” is an easy question with an easy answer, but it isn’t. The simple answer is “zero”, as that’s how often you’ll receive a full version of Microsoft Office pre-installed on a laptop bought from a high-street retailer. And yet nine out of ten laptops will ship with a Microsoft 365 icon. So what gives?
What version of Microsoft Office is installed on my laptop?
The confusion occurs because the likes of Acer, HP and Lenovo typically do include a version of Office on their laptops. However, if you click on the Office icon then you’ll almost certainly see something like the above image.
You’re not really getting Office as you know it. You’re getting “Office on the web”, so apps that run within a web browser.
That’s actually fine. Word and Excel both work effectively from within a browser, and you won’t get charged a penny. You will, however, need to set up a Microsoft account if you haven’t already done so.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be hit with the upsell. This includes “premium desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more”, and naturally Microsoft wants you to buy direct from it. (Cycle through the screenshots above to see what we mean.)
However, don’t rush in. There are cheaper ways to buy Microsoft Office and gain access to those “premium desktop versions”, as we reveal below.
Which version of Microsoft Office should I buy?
Microsoft presents a simple choice between Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family. You can pay monthly (£5.99 or £7.99) or save around a quid per month by paying annually (£59.99 or £79.99).
If you can share the subscription costs with anyone (they don’t have to be a member of your family) then 365 Family makes a lot more sense. But, you have other options.
One is to buy a licence key from elsewhere. In particular, Amazon sells one-year licences (in fact, they’re usually for 15 months) for a cheaper price than Microsoft and you don’t get sucked into the renewals cycle:
- Microsoft 365 Personal (one user, one year), £45 from Amazon (£60 from Microsoft)
- Microsoft 365 Family (six users, one-year subscription), £53 from Amazon (£80 from Microsoft)
Can I still buy Microsoft Office without a subscription?
Yes: your second option is a “one-time purchase” version of Microsoft Office.
The advantage of a Microsoft 365 subscription is that your software will be automatically updated and includes all the desktop apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access and Publisher for instance.
The one-time purchase version is stuck in time, only includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint (plus Outlook for the Home & Business version) and only gets security updates. And even then, only for a few years.
However, if you don’t care about having the most up-to-date version of Word, Excel etc then you will be more than happy with the 2019 version of the software – and as you’ll see, it’s a bargain by comparison.
Here’s a brief rundown of your Office one-time purchase options along with the cheapest place we could find them:
- Microsoft Office 2021 Home and Student (one user, one-time purchase), £109 from PC Pro software store (£120 from Microsoft)
- Microsoft Office 2019 Home and Student (one user, one-time purchase), £69 from PC Pro software store (was £120 from Microsoft but no longer sold)
- Microsoft Office 2021 Home and Business (one-PC lifetime commercial licence), £200 from PC Pro software store (£250 from Microsoft)
- Microsoft Office 2019 Home and Business (one-PC lifetime commercial licence), £99 from PC Pro software store (was £250 from Microsoft but no longer sold)
What’s the difference between Office Home & Student and Office Home & Business?
Officially, you can’t use Microsoft 365 Personal in a commercial role (eg if you give laptops to people who work for you) and the same goes for Office Home & Student.
The other difference is that Home & Business includes Outlook. Note that the neither the 2021 or 2019 editions work with Windows 8 or earlier.
|Home & Student 2021||Home & Business 2021|
|Works with Windows 10/11?||Yes||Yes|
|Works with Windows 8 or earlier?||No||No|
|For commercial use?||No||Yes|
Will my laptop be fast enough to run Microsoft Office?
Almost certainly, yes. Microsoft Office isn’t overly taxing on a computer; if it ships with Windows 10 or Windows 11 then we can say with some confidence that it will run Microsoft Office.
Any other questions about Microsoft Office? Then let us know in the comments and we will either answer directly there or update the main article.