As Microsoft Raises Prices 20% on Numerous Products, How Can You Save Money?
As prices continue to rise due to inflation, minimum wage hikes and other factors, Microsoft is the latest company to announce price increases, effective within the next six months. The price increase affects the commercial version of Microsoft 365, and is the first price increase in a decade, the company said in a blog post last week.
In the post, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365 Jared Spataro was sure to note, “This updated pricing reflects the increased value we have delivered to our customers over the past 10 years,” having added dozens of apps to the suite since its launch ten years prior.
Microsoft 365 includes productivity apps such as Teams, Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and many others. It incorporates the most frequently used features from Windows, Office and Enterprise Mobility and Security.
As of March 1, 2022, prices for the software suite will rise as follows:
- Business Basic – from $5 to $6 per user
- Business Premium – from $20 to $22
- Office 365 E1 – from $8 to $10
- Office 365 E3 – from $20 to $23
- Office 365 E5 – from $35 to $38
- Microsoft 365 E3 – From $32 to $36
However, you don’t have to rely on the MS suite of products for your business, especially if you’re willing to sacrifice a few features. As more people adopt other products, cross-compatibility becomes less of an issue. For instance, Google Docs files can be opened in MS Word with very little loss of formatting, and vice versa.
Here are some money-saving alternatives to Microsoft 365 for your business. Keep in mind, MS said it is not raising prices on consumer or education versions, but these alternatives could still save you money for personal use:
Google / Google Workspace
Voted the best Microsoft Office alternative by The Balance Small Business, Google Workspace brings together the Gmail email app and productivity apps that include Docs, Meet (for video conferencing), Sheets (an Excel alternative), Slides (a PowerPoint alternative) and Google Forms (for collecting data and creating questionnaires).
The downside to the suite of apps is that it works best in the cloud. You can download plugins that enable you to work offline, but the Google products work more reliably online. You can even download apps for iPhone or Android mobile devices, giving you access to all the features on-the-go.
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Pricing for Workspace for business users starts at $6 per user per month, and allows video meetings of up to 100 participants, plus 30 GB of cloud storage per user.
It doesn’t offer all the capabilities of Microsoft 365, but for users who primarily need word processing, spreadsheet and slideshow presentation capabilities, Apache OpenOffice delivers. The suite also includes Draw, Base and Math, which are drawing, database and equations programs, respectively.
Best of all, the open source software application is completely free, even for business users. You might experience some compatibility issues with Word and Google Docs, but nothing that can’t be overcome.
Apple Office Suite / iWork
Mac users have another free option for productivity apps — the Apple Office Suite, or iWork, which comes free with your Mac computer purchase. Programs include Pages, which is a Word counterpart, Numbers, which replaces Excel, and Keynote, which can be used for presentations.
There is a web-based version, as well, which is great if you prefer to work in the cloud. You may have to pay extra for iCloud storage, but the applications are all free to Mac owners.
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Last updated: August 24, 2021