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Moving Beyond Pre-installed Office: Getting the Features You Need


Moving Beyond Pre-installed Office: Getting the Features You Need


When buying a new PC, it likely came with Office pre-installed. This is convenient, but versions like Office 365 Home or Office Home & Student have limitations. As your needs grow, you may want more capabilities than these restricted pre-installed editions can offer. Fortunately, there are solutions to upgrade your Office experience for greater features and flexibility.


This guide will cover the drawbacks of common pre-installed Office versions and provide options to “break free” into the full Office feature set you may desire. Read on to empower yourself with the tools and knowledge to build the ideal Office environment for your needs.


Drawbacks of Pre-installed Office Versions


While pre-installed Office provides basic editing and document creation capabilities out of the box, there are some key disadvantages to be aware of:


- Features Restricted – Many applications like Access and Publisher are excluded.


- Enterprise Use Blocked – Can’t join business domains or network Office installations.


- Subscription Licensing – Product keys need renewal every 1-2 years in most cases.


- No Version Selection – Stuck with the specific edition the manufacturer chose.


- Licenses Locked to Device – Cannot transfer activation to a new computer.


- Forced Updates – You automatically get migrated to new versions with little control.


- Stability Concerns – Frequent updates via cloud can disrupt workflows.


- Limited Device Installs – Typically 1-5 devices allowed based on license terms.


If these limitations impact your use case, you do have alternatives...


Buying Standalone Desktop Office Editions


For maximum control and features, purchasing a standalone Office license is the way to go. Office Professional 2019 or Office 2016 provide perpetual licensing with no renewal needed. You also gain access to all applications, features, and updates are controlled on your timeline. If you don't need cloud collaboration, buying the standalone edition avoids the drawbacks of pre-installed Office.


Upgrading to Full Office 365 Versions


Office 365 comes in tiered editions. Switching from Home or Personal to Office 365 ProPlus or Business Premium unlocks more robust capabilities. You can join enterprise environments, get 5 PC installs, leverage cloud collaboration tools, and more. The subscription costs more but delivers greater value for growing businesses.


Mix and Match Deployment Options


You don’t necessarily have to put all your eggs in one basket. For example, you can deploy Office 365 for users needing cloud access and collaboration, while equipping your accounting team with the full desktop Office 2019 release for stability and access to Access databases without disruption. Mixing options allows tailoring deployments to specific needs.


Transferring an Existing Office License


If you want to maintain your current Office 365 subscription but transfer it from an old PC to a new one, this is possible by linking the license with your Microsoft account. Make sure to sign in when activating Office to move the entitlement to new hardware without rebuying.


Purchasing Only the Needed Extra Applications


Don’t want full Office but need access to something like Publisher? You can purchase individual apps to enable specific functionality beyond the pre-installed version. Getting only the missing components you need can be more cost effective.


Taking Advantage of Large Student Discounts


If you’re a student, heavily discounted Office 365 Education licensing provides a great value. This unlocks the full Office suite for a tiny fraction of normal pricing. Just make sure to validate your student status when purchasing.


Enterprise Volume Licensing Options


For large organizations, volume licensing programs can provide company or entity-wide access to Office 365 or perpetual licenses like Office 2019 Professional. This covers every employee for a single annual fee based on total user count.


Considering Free Office Software Alternatives


If going with a free office suite like WPS Office or OpenOffice suits your basic needs, this avoids any licensing costs. Just be aware that free options have reduced capabilities compared to Microsoft Office.


In summary, pre-installed Office can become limiting over time. But with a bit of planning and research on the available options, you can break free from restrictions and get the ideal Office setup tailored for your unique needs and budget. The power lies in your hands!