Off Topic: How to Get Microsoft Office for Free in 2020

NOTE: The following article is off-topic. That is, it has nothing to do with family history, DNA, or any other genealogy-related topic. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one.

Instead, this article is about one of my favorite topics: saving money. I suspect others have the same interest. If that includes you, perhaps you will find this article to be of interest.

Yes, you can use a free version of Microsoft Office on Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, and most tablet computers. A YouTube video by Kevin Stratvert describes how to use the FREE versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Office Lens, or Skype for Business.

The FREE version of these applications is available by signing into Microsoft Office 365. Note the number “365” is added onto the program name. Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based version of the most popular office program in the world.  Microsoft Office 365 is about 95% the same as the standard Microsoft Office (without the “365” identifier). While the standard Microsoft Office version has been available for years, it requires installation on either a Windows or Macintosh computer. In contrast, Microsoft Office 365 requires no software installation and even works on Chromebooks and Linux as well as with Windows or Macintosh systems.

With the older (and expensive) Microsoft Office, you may find a very few available functions that are not available in the cloud-based Microsoft Office 365. However, all the commonly-used functions are included. In my usage of Microsoft Office 365, I have only encountered one thing “missing” in the free cloud-based version. Unlike the paid version of Microsoft Office, the “365” version apparently does not offer the ability to track changes in multiple updates of a document.

I suspect there are other differences as well, but I have only found this one difference. However, your usage might be different from mine.

The huge advantages of Microsoft Office 365 include:

  • No software installation is required.
  • No troubleshooting is required. Unlike the standard Microsoft Office, there is no need to ever fix a corrupted program or to manually install software updates. The support people at Microsoft do all that for you. You simply start the program and use it.
  • While you probably will be connected to the Internet, a live Internet connection is not an absolute requirement to use Microsoft Office 365. For instructions on how to use Microsoft Office 365 when disconnected from the Internet, read the instructions at https://support.office.com/en-us/article/how-to-install-and-run-microsoft-office-on-a-chromebook-32f14a23-2c1a-4579-b973-d4b1d78561ad.

How to Get Microsoft Office for Free in 2020 by Kevin Stratvert is available as a YouTube video at: https://youtu.be/DuQyKM7_V-Y as well as in the video below:

12 Comments

Hmm–for the last 2 years I have been paying an annual fee of @$70 for “Office 365 Personal” It has the full suite of things like excel, publisher, etc. I use it simply for Word and Excel. At subscription time it looked like best bargain offered by Microsoft. A stand alone software version of just Word offered no updates as I recall.

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Many thanks!

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If this works it’s fabulous so thank you for letting us know about this.

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I prefer to have it on my computer. If you’re somewhere that has no internet, you can’t access anything.

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    As mentioned in the above article, Microsoft Office 365 can be used whether you are online or offline.
    The same is true for a number of other apps that run on Chromebooks.

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Is this all assuming you have space on your Microsoft account to store the documents online? That is if you exceed your allocation of free account space of 5GB you would then need to purchase additional cloud space?

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Is this all assuming you have space on your Microsoft account to store the documents online? That is if you exceed your allocation of free account space of 5GB you would then need to purchase additional cloud space.

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Still using Microsoft Office 2003 on my laptop (Windows 10). Works just fine for what I need.

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    365 is only cheaper the first year. You have to pay again every year. The regular version is good for many years. I heard the regular version was discontinued as of this year. I hope that’s not true.

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Another feature missing in the free version is auto save to your computer. You can only auto save to the cloud and it creates a new document each time you exit. If you wish to save to your machine, turn off auto save and make sure you save manually often.

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Marilyn Kay Maynard January 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

I use MS Office 365 and have been paying for it annually–I was certainly not aware it could be used at no charge. However, I recently was reminded that it is good to have items stored in the cloud as I experienced a power surge which rendered that computer unusable. I do have backups, but it was easier to go to the cloud and retrieve what I needed.

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