Differences Between MS Office Versions

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Microsoft Office is a collection of bundled productivity software known as a suite. Office 2010, which comes in five suite variations, is the latest collection as of April 2011. Office Home and Student, Home and Business, Professional, Standard and Professional Plus all have different individual programs bundled with them. They're each designed to meet the needs of different users, with some versions only available to businesses.

The Programs

  • The key difference between the various Office 2010 suites are the programs included in each suite. The suite with the least, Home and Student, comes with Word and Excel for text documents and spreadsheets. It also comes with OneNote for note taking and PowerPoint for presentations. The Home and Business suite comes with everything Home and Student has but also includes Outlook, Microsoft's email client and organizational tool. Office Professional includes two additional programs, database tool Access and publishing software Publisher. Volume licensing options come in two variations. Standard includes everything in Professional except Access. Professional Plus has all the programs in the other suites plus three exclusive to this version. InfoPath helps businesses keep track of forms and files; SharePoint allows users to share files and access them away from the work computer and Lync allows multiple users to collaborate on the same document.

Retail Versions

  • Retail versions of Office 2010 are designed for home or small business use. This includes versions either purchased in-store or downloaded directly from Microsoft. Home and Student 2010's retail version allows you to install the software on up to three PCs, while Home and Business and Professional allow one installation. Microsoft says the primary user may also install Home and Business or Professional on one additional portable device, like a laptop computer. If you bought your computer with a retail version of Office 2010 pre-loaded onto the computer, the license is good only for that computer, even if it's the Home and Student version.

Volume Licensing Versions

  • Office Standard 2010 and Professional Plus require volume licensing of at least five licenses. When you buy one of the retail versions, you get one license to install the suite on one to three computers. With volume licensing, you can install the suite on multiple computers using one license per computer. The prices vary depending on the suite purchased, the terms of the agreement with Microsoft and the number of licenses bought.

Stand-Alone Programs

  • The suites include the programs Microsoft feels the different user markets need most. If you'd rather mix-and-match or you want to buy one of the programs by itself, Microsoft offers each program in its Office 2010 suites as a stand-alone product. As of April 2011, Word Home and Student 2010 by itself costs about $120; the entire Home and Student suite is about $150 and gives you three extra programs for $30 more than Word's stand-alone price. Purchased individually, all the Home and Student programs together cost about $430 as opposed to $120 for the bundled suite.

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