Office 2013: Editions at a glance and FAQ

What's the difference between Office 2013 and Office 365? Which apps are in each edition? How do I install the preview? Get answers to these questions and more in this FAQ.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

Last updated February 27, 2013

You have questions about Office 2013. I have answers.

What is Office 2013?

Office 2013 is the latest release of Microsoft Office. It is currently available by subscription as Office 365 Home Premium, introduced in January 2013, and in several Office 365 business editions that were released on February 27, 2013. It is also available in "perpetual license" versions, which may be installed on a single PC only.

Office 2013 runs on Windows 7 and Windows 8 on desktop PCs, notebooks, and tablets. The Office 2013 family includes a large number of desktop apps as well as server products (most notably Exchange and SharePoint).

What’s the difference between Office 365 and Office 2013?

Office 2013 is the name of the traditional software package that includes individual desktop programs. Office 365 is Microsoft's brand for a variety of online services, including Microsoft Exchange email, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. Some Office 365 plans include Office 2013; If you subscribe to one of those plans you receive rights to use the Office 2013 programs as part of a subscription service that includes online storage, sharing, and syncing via Microsoft cloud services. Office 365 is available in business, consumer, education, and government editions.

When purchased as part of an Office 365 subscription, the Office 2013 programs and associated services are always available in the latest version.

Microsoft's official Office 365 FAQ is here.

Do I need to be online to use Office 2013 programs like Word and Excel?

No. These programs are installed from the web, but they work just like traditional desktop software, whether you are online or offline. Being online and signed in allows you to access files in cloud storage services.

Is Office 365 required to run Office 2013?

No. You can still purchase some Office 2013 editions with a perpetual license that doesn’t require any ongoing subscription fees. This version can be combined with a free Microsoft Account (aka Windows Live account) to allow online document storage and sharing on SkyDrive.

Can I transfer an Office 2013 license between devices I own?

The Office 365 subscription allows you to install Office on up to five devices at one time, and you can deactivate existing installations to transfer your Office 2013 license to a new PC anytime by going to your Office 365 account page. This is emphatically not true of perpetual license versions of Office, which are hobbled by significant new limitations compared to their Office 2010 predecessors. A "no transfer" clause for retail copies locks the license to the first PC on which it was installed, with no rights to transfer licenses. Microsoft says it will make an exception for licenses on PCs that fail under warranty.

For details, see:

What are the system requirements for Office 2013?

Office 2013 will run only on Windows 7 or Windows 8, or on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 or later. You'll need at least 3.5 GB of free disk space.

Where can I try or purchase Office 365 Home Premium?

You can sign up for Office 365 Home Premium at Office.com.

Can I use Office 365 Home Premium for my business?

No, at least not without violating the license agreement, which specifically forbids its use for "commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities." See this article for details.

Where can I compare Office 365 business plans and sign up for a trial?

Start here

Are other Office 2013 downloads available?

Download links for individual apps, including an installer-based copy of the Office 2013 package, are at this page. If you have a TechNet Plus or MSDN subscription, you can also find downloads via those services.

How does the Office 2013 installer work?

When you sign in to the Microsoft Online portal, you’re given the option to download a Click-to-Run installer that handles the entire installation online. You must remain connected to the Internet until the installation is complete.

You can install Office 2013 on up to five PCs. The management portal allows you to deactivate the installed copy of Office from one or more devices so that you can install it on a new device.


Can I use Office desktop programs without permanently installing them on a PC?

If you want to use an individual app on a device where Office 2013 is not installed, you can install the software as a “roaming app.” Sign in to your Microsoft Office account, open SkyDrive, and open a document using the Office Web App. Click or tap File and then click or tap Edit to display the screen shown here.


Click or tap Edit in Word to begin "streaming" the app to your local PC. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, and InfoPath are available as roaming apps.

How do I connect services to an Office 365 account?

Any accounts that are connected to your Microsoft account are automatically included when you use that account to sign in to Windows 8 or Office 365. You can connect to additional SkyDrive or SharePoint accounts directly from the Open screen.

To add other types of accounts, or to view and manage existing connected accounts, click or tap File in any Office 2013 app, then click or tap Account. Use the menu at the bottom of the list of connected accounts to make additions.


Will Office 2013 coexist with earlier versions of Office?

Yes. I was able to successfully run Office 2013 apps (including Outlook) alongside their Office 2010 and Office 2007 counterparts. You can run multiple versions of Word, Excel, and other document-based apps side by side. However, you can only run one version of Outlook at a time.

What Office 365 editions are available, and what’s in each one?

The following Office 365 plans are or will be available:

  • Office 365 Home Premium This offering allows you to install Office on up to five PCs, which can in turn be used by any number of users. So a shared family PC could allow multiple users, each of whom signs in with their own Microsoft account. The package includes an additional 20 GB of online storage on SkyDrive (above and beyond the 7 GB included with a free SkyDrive account); the extra storage is credited to the account of the person who administers the Office 365 subscription. Home Premium includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, and Publisher.
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium Microsoft says this business edition is "best for companies with 1-10 employees," although it supports up to 25 accounts. Each user can install Office on up to five PCs or Macs for their own use. (Each user must have a license, regardless of how many of the five installations they use. You can't distribute installations on PCs and allow them to be used by employees who don't have a current subscription.) The package includes hosted email, shared documents (with SharePoint, branded as SkyDrive Pro), and HD videoconferencing using a Microsoft-hosted Lync server. This package includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, and Lync.
  • Office 365 ProPlus This offering is identical to the Small Business package except that it includes only the Office 2013 desktop programs and does not include Exchange, SharePoint, or Lync..
  • Office 365 Enterprise For large organizations, this package includes Office 365 ProPlus with Exchange Online, including archiving and legal hold features. It also includes SharePoint Online and Lync Online; the latter allows meetings and extended collaboration scenarios.
  • Office 365 Midsize Business This offering has most of the features in the Enterprise package but is intended, according to Microsoft, for businesses with 10-250 users (with a maximum of 300 users allowed).

Can I upgrade from one business plan to another?

No. If you want to move from Office 365 Small Business Premium to Midsize or from Midsize to Enterprise, you need to set up a new plan, migrate your existing data and users, and then close the current plan. If you think there's even a remote chance your business might grow to include more than 25 employees, you should start with the Midsize or Enterprise plan.

What is included with Office 2013 on Windows RT?

Devices running Windows RT include Office 2013 Home Premium: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The preview version is installed on devices today, but using Windows Update you can install the final released version of Office 2013. It is not licensed for commercial or business use unless you have commercial rights via an enterprise license or an Office 365 business plan.

Will Office 2013 be available for Macs?

Not exactly. The final version of Office 365 includes the right to install Office 2011 for OS X on a Mac; this counts against your five-install limit. The Mac version is not available as part of previews. A new version of Office for Mac is in the works. If prior patterns repeat, it will be available a year after Office 2013.

Will Office 2013 be supported on Windows Phones?

Yes, files created in Office 2013 will work with Windows Phone, and those devices will have access to SkyDrive, SharePoint, and Office 365 e-mail as well.

Will Office 2013 be available for iOS devices, such as iPads, or for Android tablets?

Office 365 features that work in a web browser are available on iOS and Android devices. Microsoft has announced that OneNote apps will be available for iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and Nokia Symbian phones. Microsoft has not publicly announced any plans to release any additional Office apps for iOS or Android. But we all know they're coming.

How much will Office 2013 perpetual licenses cost? How much will Office 365 subscriptions cost?

See this article.

Can I migrate my Office 365 preview account when the service goes live?

No. According to the sign-up page: "The Office 365 Preview is for testing purposes only. All configuration data, user data, and user accounts that were created while testing will be deleted when the preview ends."

Is there a student version of Office 365?

Yes, Office 365 University is identical to Office 365 Home Premium, with two exceptions. It can be installed on only two devices (Windows PC or Mac) and a four-year subscription costs a total of $79.99 (U.S. dollars). Check your eligibility and get additional details here.

Editorial standards