Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365, is a service that extends the functionality of conventional office applications. However, if you don’t want to pay, there are a few ways to get the service and its popular software for free.
Microsoft’s suite of productivity software, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint, usually costs $150 for a one-time download (as Office 365), or $70 to $100 per year for a subscription plan access through devices and family members (as Microsoft 365). Microsoft also plans to release a new standalone version of Microsoft Office for both Windows and Mac later this year for a one-time fee with no subscription necessary.
Here are the versions of Office 365, Microsoft 365, and their applications that are currently available for free online.
For Teachers or Students
If you have a school email address and are a student, teacher, or faculty member, you may be eligible for free Office 365 access from Microsoft, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams, and other classroom resources.
All you have to do is enter your school email address on this page on Microsoft’s website: Get started with Office 365 for free. In many cases, you’ll be given access right away thanks to an automated verification procedure. It can take up to a month to confirm your eligibility if you attend an institution that must be confirmed.
Recent graduates who want to continue with Office 365 will get Office 365 Personal for $12 for a year if they have a valid school email address.
Anyone can sign up for a one-month free trial of Microsoft 365. However, you must enter your credit card details, and if you do not cancel before the end of the month, you will be charged $100 for a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Family (formerly called Office 365 Home).
If you don’t need the full suite of Microsoft 365 tools, you can still use a range of its applications online for free, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Outlook, Calendar, and Skype.
Here’s how you can get them:
- Go to Office.com.
- Login to your Microsoft account (or create one for free). If you already have a Windows, Skype, or Xbox login, you have an active Microsoft account.
- Select the app you want to use, and save your work in the cloud with OneDrive.
Is It Really For Free?
These apps’ online versions aren’t as feature-rich as their desktop counterparts. They lack the most powerful tools, such as advanced formatting in Word and comprehensive graphs and macros in Excel.
This makes Office Online unsuitable for professional use, but it is perfectly adequate for personal use.
The lack of power-user features in Office Online, however, could be helpful to some users. The number of tools on the Ribbon and customization choices in desktop Office can be overwhelming. If this describes you, Office Online’s simplified approach can appeal to you.
If you have an older computer with a slow hard drive and limited RAM, Office Online might be more suitable. While the desktop Office apps are fairly massive, the web app is not as resource-intensive on your laptop.
Office Online has organizational benefits as well. Since it saves all of your files to OneDrive, they take up no space on your computer.
Storing all Office files in OneDrive often prevents them from being mixed in with the rest of the system’s files. Each app shows recently edited and pinned files of its type (spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) so you can open them without having to dig through folders.
Finally, you can save documents in standard Office file formats such as DOCX and XLSX by using Office Online. Since so many people use Microsoft Office, this is important for interoperability. Many Microsoft Office alternatives do not work flawlessly with these formats, giving Office Online an advantage.
Use Microsoft Word For Free
It’s fantastic that Microsoft Word and other Office applications are now available for free online, as you don’t have to pay for basic features. If you haven’t used Office Online before, you can try it out and see if it meets your needs. You could end up saving money if you use it instead of the regular Office.