While Windows is arguably Microsoft's premier product for consumers in terms of marketing and general market awareness, it's not my favorite Microsoft product. That title goes to Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), the company's cloud-powered subscription service that grants you access to Office apps and lots more for a recurring cost.
I've been a Microsoft 365 Family subscriber for a few years and this is probably the only Microsoft product that I have had absolutely no regrets purchasing so far. There are multiple reasons for this and I'll walk through some of those in this piece today so readers who are on the fence have an easier time reaching a decision about whether Microsoft 365 is worth their money or not.
For starters, Microsoft 365 gives you the latest version of Office apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and more at all times. You don't need to worry about updates at all, they are handled directly by the Redmond tech giant and the update process is seamless too. This is in stark contrast to one-time Office purchases like Office 2021 where you only receive the version you paid for along with some security updates, but no feature updates.
Speaking of feature updates, these are regularly rolled out to Microsoft 365. If you actively read Neowin, you've probably seen our monthly round-up articles of the latest capabilities added to Office apps. Some of the new functionalities are really useful to me and I believe there is almost always something of interest for someone considering that updates are bountiful. It even includes cloud-powered capabilities that are not present in offline or LTSC versions of Office.
It's also worth mentioning that I'm yet to experience major bugs in Office apps. This is relative with respect to other Microsoft software that I use such as Windows, Edge, Teams, Power BI Desktop, Visual Studio etc. I'm not saying that these software are bug-ridden, nor am I saying that Office apps are completely bug-free. What I'm emphasizing is that the occurrence of bugs is rarer for me in Office apps when compared to Microsoft's other software, which results in a better experience overall.
Another benefit I love with my Microsoft 365 subscription is the bundling of OneDrive cloud storage. If you purchase a Family plan, you can share your subscription among six people and each of them gets 1TB of OneDrive storage. For me, this is a sizeable amount of storage and it means that I can save all of my important files such as photos, videos, documents, and more to the cloud without a second thought. I'm nowhere close to worrying about running out of storage use even though I use it comfortably. It's also important to mention that OneDrive competes with Dropbox, Google One, and other cloud storage plans but the fact that it is bundled with Microsoft 365 means that it's not a direct competitor to either of those. Personally, it gives me the best bang for buck because I'm also an active user of Office apps.
This also leads into the biggest advantage of the Microsoft 365 Family Plan itself, which is the ability to share your subscription with other people. This results in a lower cost per person and each person in my plan pays their own share to me directly at the end of each billing period, which means that I only have to pay for my portion of the plan.
Finally, and some people might disagree with me here, but I prefer a recurring subscription model for Microsoft 365 rather than the one-time license payment of Office LTSC. This not only means that I get regular updates but also that I have to pay a relatively low cost at the start of the billing period and then not give it a second thought until another year (I use the yearly billing option).
An excellent initiative that Microsoft has taken in this regard is that the cost of Microsoft 365 in my country, Pakistan, is seemingly with respect to the buying power and not-so-good economy. For example, Microsoft 365 Family costs $99.99/year in the U.S., which would translate to PKR 23,000/year according to today's exchange rates but Microsoft charges me PKR 15,000/year. This is a massive reduction and makes it really easy for me to continue affording Microsoft 365 every year. I'm a fan of companies doing regional pricing; some of our ardent readers may remember me breaking the story of how Valve did the same for Steam five years ago. The move seems to have been very successful and popular, which is why it's still active.
I hope Microsoft continues making Microsoft 365 better but I'm an absolute fan of the work that it has done on the software so far, along with all the benefits it brings with it such as cloud storage, cloud-powered capabilities, regular feature updates, and cost-effectiveness of the subscription plans.
You may have noticed that while I said that Microsoft 365 is my favorite Microsoft product and compared it a bit to other software that I have used, I did not compare it against a hardware category. This is because I don't believe Microsoft's Surface line offers me the best bang for buck, HoloLens really isn't for consumers, I don't have a lot of time for gaming so Xbox and Game Pass are out of the equation for now, and Windows Phone is dead. Microsoft 365 is the clear winner for me and I don't think any other product is even close.
Do you use Microsoft 365? Do you like it? What is your favorite Microsoft 365 product? Let us know in the comments section below!