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Software: A Cost of Doing Business

A common question from a number of our smaller clients is:” Does that computer price include (Microsoft) Office?” Our answer is always “no,” and it’s followed by the comment: “Well, our previous guy included Office.” That inclusion may have been questionable at best and didn’t do the client any favors.

The issue typically arises when we go to set up a computer system we ordered for a client. They may have been running a copy of Office but have no master disks or a product key, which indicates they don’t have a licensed copy. That makes it impossible to install the software.

We are not the software police, and we’re not making any accusations. It’s entirely possible you had a legal copy to use if the person who installed the software had a license to do so. Our tipoff is when we see a small business running the enterprise version of Office. No small business would ever buy this version of Office, and Microsoft doesn’t sell single copies. If you happen to be running it, only the person who installed it would be able to reinstall it – if he still has the license.

But as with everything else in life, nothing is really free. If you have “free” use or reduced-cost use of software such as Office but can’t reinstall it and continue your operations seamlessly, what have you saved?

What other costs might you incur? The cheaper cost is simply buying the software. The more expensive cost is any business interruption that results from losing your application software unexpectedly.

What are your options?

First, you can buy a single copy for one-time use on one computer. Shop online. The cost should be somewhere around $220.

If you have more than one computer, you can buy a subscription to Office 365, which provides your Microsoft Office suite and Outlook. It costs $150 per year to cover up to five computers, and you can find plans to cover more computers if needed. With Office 365, you will access your application and data files over the Internet – through the cloud – and you can store a data file, such as a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, on your computer’s hard drive.

You can also buy multiple-computer licenses from Microsoft, and that might be beneficial for small businesses still using Office 2007 or 2010. You’ll need to buy Office 2013, but you’ll have “downgrade” rights to license the software and get the media and product keys you’ll need for reinstallations.

We can help you select the right software purchase plan for your business or home based on the number of computers you have and the versions that make sense for continuity and consistency. Give us a call – 973-433-6676 – or send us an email to set up an appointment. Software has a cost, but not having licensed software usually carries a higher cost.