Find Your Best Version of Microsoft Office

Optimize Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and More on Your Desktop or Mobile Devices

Choosing the best version of Microsoft Office for your device and usage can feel overwhelming. Or, you may assume that you have the best version for your needs simply because its the latest, but this is not always the case.

Here is a simple summary of your options to make choosing one as painless as possible!

Keep in mind that some versions of Microsoft Office are intended to integrate with cloud or mobile lifestyles, though this is optional.

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Viewing Tools. (c) Mieke Dalle / Getty Images

You can view, copy, or print Office documents authored by others without buying the suite yourself. However, these Office Viewers are becoming obsolete because they offer fewer features than Microsoft Office Online.

Since both are free, I feel it makes more sense for users to sign up for Office Online instead (see next item on this list).

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Excel Web Apps
Excel Web Apps. (c) Courtesy of Microsoft

The Office Web Apps are free, simplified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The apps are used on your Android, iOS, Mac, or Windows device through an internet connection.

The programs themselves are housed on a remote server. Users are therefore working through Microsoft's cloud environment known as OneDrive. More »

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Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows

Office Logo
Office Logo. (c) Courtesy of Microsoft

Office 2016 is the latest version of Microsoft Office. As opposed to the cloud-based Office 365, just below, it is the traditional desktop version of the suite, but can be cloud-integrated.

Office 2016 comes in a variety of versions you can read more about through this link. In particular, you may be interested in a discounted student version, if you qualify.

You purchase Office 2016 the same way as past versions, by paying for it once.

Alternatively, you could opt for older versions: Office 2013, Office 2010 or Office 2007. Support for Office 2003 has ended. The tradeoff is that, while these versions may be cheaper, they will lose support sooner and could cause you compatibility issues with users who have upgraded.

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iMac. (c) Courtesy of Apple

Microsoft Office 2016 is the latest version for Mac users. It is available as a free preview until it is released in a final consumer version users will then need to purchase. Follow this link for more details and download information.

Alternatively, you could opt for Office 2011 for Mac. Again, the tradeoff for saving money on an older version is that the software loses relevancy faster.

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(Image courtesy of Microsoft Corp.)
(Image courtesy of Microsoft Corp.). (Image courtesy of Microsoft Corp.)

Office 365 is the productivity portion of Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud, and the new Office 2013 is part of Office 365.

If this is making your head swim keep in mind this is a pretty big shift in productivity trends. A great way to solidify this is by reading Office 365 and Office 2013...What's the Difference?

Office 365 comes in professional, organizational, personal, or student subscription plans rather than a one-time purchase.

Quick Comparison Chart of All Microsoft Office 365 Subscription Plans More »

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Microsoft Excel for iPad. (c) Courtesy of Microsoft

This version is optimized for iPad tablets and is available in a free version. Additional features are available with an Office 365 subscription.

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Editing a Word Document in the Microsoft Office Mobile App for iOS
Editing a Word Document in the Microsoft Office Mobile App for iOS. (c) courtesy of Microsoft

This is an app you can use alone or with an Office 365 subscription. The latter gives you more features and options. More »

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Microsoft Office Mobile for Android Tablets

Check Spelling in Microsoft Word for Android Tablets
Microsoft Word for Android Tablets. (c) Courtesy of Microsoft

This version for Android tablets is in preview. You can download it for free and use it, then upgrade to the final release version. Once that happens, you should have the option of integrating this app with Office 365 for even more features.

Excel 2013 RT
Excel 2013 RT. (c) Courtesy of Microsoft

Office 2013 comes in a special version for Windows 8 RT devices such as Microsoft's Surface RT.

A few limitations exist in this version, so it really pays to check this out before deciding on your hardware. If you already have an RT device, this is the most robust version of Office that will work on it, and it probably came pre-installed anyway. More »

Microsoft Word Mobile for Android
Microsoft Word Mobile for Android. (c) Courtesy of Microsoft

This free version for Android phones can also be used as a standalone app or integrated with Office 365.

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Microsoft Office for Windows Phone 8
Microsoft Office for Windows Phone 8. (c) Courtesy of Microsoft

Your best experience for Microsoft Office o n Windows Phone comes from a version built just for this device, and it most likely is pre-installed on newer phones. This also can be used as an independent app or with an Office 365 subscription. More »

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Grigg, Cindy. "Find Your Best Version of Microsoft Office." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/which-version-microsoft-office-is-best-2512037. Grigg, Cindy. (2017, March 3). Find Your Best Version of Microsoft Office. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/which-version-microsoft-office-is-best-2512037 Grigg, Cindy. "Find Your Best Version of Microsoft Office." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/which-version-microsoft-office-is-best-2512037 (accessed December 15, 2017).