Bonus: they're also completely legal
A Microsoft Office 365 (now called Microsoft 365) subscription starts at $70 a year, or you can buy a license for about $150. But don’t worry, you don’t necessarily have to pay these prices.
It doesn’t matter if you need to use it on the go, or on a PC. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be using it sparingly, or for 8 hours a day. There are ways you can get Office 365 for free.
Use Microsoft Office Online
To compete with Google’s suite of productivity apps, Microsoft offers an online-only version of its popular Office apps for free. You can use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in a browser on your Mac, Windows PC, or a Chromebook, entirely for free.
While they are not as feature rich as the desktop apps, most of the core functionality is available. The editing features in Word, and functions in Excel are all available in the Office Online experience (in a modern, web-based package).
Just open Office.com in your browser and sign in with your Microsoft account. Then, you can create a blank document or start with one of the templates. If you were already working on a document, or if you have received a document that you need to edit, you can easily upload it to Office Online (using drag and drop).
Try Office 365 For Free
If you only need Microsoft Office for a while (say, if you have college submissions due in a couple of weeks), you can just use the trial version of Microsoft Office. Go to the Microsoft Office for Free website and sign up for the trial.
While you’ll have to provide a credit card for this, you can cancel the subscription before the month ends. This way, you won’t be charged automatically. You can even cancel it right after signing up and continue to use the trial for the rest of the month.
The trial will give you access to the Microsoft 365 Home plan (previously known as the Office 365 Home plan). You’ll get access to all Office 365 products for free like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, not to mention 1TB cloud storage space.
Once you sign up for Office 365, you’ll be able to use the desktop Office apps offline with all the available features. If your month is up, you can sign up again using a different email address to get an extra month (or two).
Use Office 365 Mobile Apps For Free
Microsoft has a free version of Office available for smartphones and tablets. If your device screen is smaller than 10.1 inches, you can edit Microsoft Office documents for free. This includes 10-inch Android tablets and the 9.7-inch iPad (but not the 10.2-inch 7th-Generation iPad).
If your device is larger than 10.1 inches, you’ll have to get an Office 365 subscription, or use the read-only mode.
Get Office 365 Education Version For Free
If you’re a student, teacher, or even alumni, you can use the entire offline Microsoft Office 365 suite for free. The catch is that your school or educational institute needs to have an education license.
Go to the Office 365 Education page and enter your .edu email address to see if you qualify. If you do, you can download and use all Office apps on your computer.
Try The Evaluation Version
Microsoft has a separate trial for their business and enterprise users that offers the same Office 365 experience. You can head over to the Microsoft Evaluation Center and sign up for their 30-day ProPlus plan as another way to get the 30 days Office 365 trial.
Get Office 365 For Free With a New PC
Yes, this is not the most cost-effective option, but if you’re shifting to working from home, or if you’re in the market for a new PC, you can look for ones that come with a Microsoft Office 365 subscription.
You can find Windows laptops that cost less than $500 that come bundled with a free Office 365 Home plan that can be shared with up to 6 users.
Join a Shared Microsoft 365 Home Plan
Speaking of the Microsoft 365 Home plan, you can ask around to see if you know anyone that already uses it. If you find a professional or a small business-person who uses the plan, you can ask them to add you to it.
Hey, if you can share your Netflix account, why not your Office account too?
That way you can split the $99/year cost between six users. That means you can get the entire Microsoft Office 365 experience for around $17/year. Now that’s a great deal. If you can convince them to add you for free, that’s an even better option.
Ask Your Employer To Buy It For You
If the Microsoft Office suite is important for you to get work done, you can make the case to your employer. Instead of paying for it out of your pocket, you can ask for it to be covered as a company expense.
Look For Deals on Shared Subscriptions
Microsoft’s website is not the only place where you can sign up for an Office 365 subscription. If you monitor the deals, you’ll find some discounts for the Office 365 Personal Home plans online. After discounts, you might get the Home plan for around $80 ($20 off) from Amazon.
When you’re looking for these deals, make sure they are from a legitimate site. Don’t fall for the eBay sellers that offer Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscriptions for $1. They might work for a while, but they are definitely not a legal option.
Use Free Office 365 Alternatives
Lastly, you don’t need to use Microsoft Office to work with Office documents. Instead, you can use the LibreOffice suite for Windows, Mac, and Linux which is a free and open-source alternative to Microsoft Office.
Using LibreOffice, you can get a similar offline desktop Office experience where you can create, open, and edit DOCX Word documents, XLS Excel spreadsheets, and PPTX PowerPoint presentations easily.
If you want an online alternative to Microsoft Office, you can use Google’s suite of productivity apps. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides supports Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats respectively.
There are many more Microsoft Office 365 alternatives. Take a look at our list of the 6 best Microsoft Office alternatives to learn more.
How do you use Microsoft Office suite in your work and personal life? Share with us in the comments below.