Office 365 and SAAS or Why can’t I just buy this software outright?

Microsoft are pushing hard with Office 365 software (Think Word, Excel, Powerpoint). The Office 365 suite and Office 2019 may look very similar at first glance. But Microsoft are making changes in favour of the O365 version to entice consumers and businesses to the subscription-based model.  This is common in many software models and cloud services. Companies like Adobe have been doing it for years; pay a monthly subscription fee to use the software instead of being able to buy it outright.

This changes the way we both buy and use the software. We are no longer buying a product. We are buying a service. This kind of model is known as “Software AS A SERVICE” or SAAS.

The subscription model works well for the software developers. It provides them with a steady income over a longer period.  If you buy Office outright off the shelf it’s a one-time sale. You own that software and don’t have much reason to pay for it again for a long time – not great from a developer’s point of view.  It also helps them to ensure that licensing is done correctly – that is – to make sure each user has a legitimate copy of the software they are using.  Gone are the days where people could buy one copy of office and install it on multiple computers.

But there are benefits to end users with this model as well. For instance, the monthly cost can be quite low – and you can change the number of licenses you use as often as you like. Someone leaves your organisation, lower your subscription (and monthly fee). If you employ someone extra, just increase your license count by 1.

Another benefit is that you are entitled to the latest version of whatever software you subscribe to. You will receive updates to the software as per normal, but if a new major version is released, you don’t have to pay extra to download and start using the new version. This applies to not just the local copy of the software you are using. Most Office 365 licenses include access to Exchange or Sharepoint.  These pieces of software alone were worth thousands of dollars – now they are included, require little maintenance, experience very little downtime and are kept up to date and secure by Microsoft.

It can be frustrating sometimes to think about why you can’t just buy a copy of the software you want to use. But when you realise the added benefits of a subscription model, the positives far outweigh any negatives.