Cheap and free Microsoft Office products

Software as a product is a strangely complex beast. Freeware, commercial software, open-source, closed source, crippleware, nagware, bloatware, software as a service, tiered usage, service contracts, upgrades — software comes in all kinds of flavors and reasons for disdain.

And as someone who lived during the rise of Microsoft, we sure loved to hate Bill Gates and company, didn’t we? They tuned the idea of the software license agreement to a well-oiled, money-making machine. If buying a watermelon were like buying Microsoft software back then:

  • You wouldn’t actually own the watermelon. You just would have the right to use it.
  • You couldn’t analyze the watermelon to see how it was grown. You might grow your own watermelons if you did that!
  • If you bought a picnic table, you’d also pay for a watermelon on top of it.
  • If you wanted a cantaloupe instead on your picnic table, you’d still have to pay for the watermelon, even if you never actually received it.
  • You couldn’t do anything you wanted with the watermelon.
  • You couldn’t share the watermelon with anyone, let alone take it to someone else’s picnic table.
  • You couldn’t even give the watermelon to someone else! You, and only you, were the sole beneficiary of said watermelon.

For years I made do on my home computer with OpenOffice for my word processing, spreadsheet, and (occasionally) presentation needs. I say “made do” because I had Microsoft Office at work, and OpenOffice, as good as it was, just wasn’t Microsoft Office. That, and the email attachments that people would send me were invariably in native Microsoft Office format. OpenOffice could open Microsoft Office documents, but the rendering was off.

OpenOffice is free, but I felt like I was … kinda getting what I paid for.

Get Microsoft Office for under $10 — completely legally

The incompatibility between OpenOffice and MS Office files had gotten to me once too many, and I headed to Amazon  to look for options for getting MS Office. The MS Office Home and Student edition had the big apps on there: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. (I would have liked Access in this bundle, but that comes with Office 365 or Office Professional.) But at $140 or so, I might have been able to swallow that pill to get the real thing.

Almost as an afterthought, I went back to the Microsoft Home Use Program to see if they would let me buy another copy for $9.99. (The last one I got is used by my wife mostly, and at the time I could only buy one.) The Microsoft HUP allows employees of certain businesses buy the full suite of MS Office products (plus a few others!) for $9.99.

Checking for eligibility is easy. Just send them an e-mail from your work address, and that will be enough for them to determine whether you qualify or not.

The good news for me was that MS Office 2013 was now what was being offered. The last time we used Microsoft HUP it was Office 2010. New version meant I could buy again! Which I did.  😀

Don’t qualify for Microsoft HUP? Hey, it happens. But …

… if you have Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can download a full version of Microsoft OneNote 2013 free.  As in gratis, for nada.

Yes … from Microsoft! Really! It’s right here.

I was actually a bit surprised. I didn’t think Microsoft gave anything away! But, after thinking for a second, it makes sense for Microsoft to give this one away, because its biggest competitor, EverNote, is also free. Perhaps this is the kinder, gentler Microsoft, now that they’re not the only game in town.

OneNote, in a way, seems easier to use than EverNote on Windows, and I don’t have to seem to route everything through the cloud, which EverNote meters, and for which the free account doesn’t last very long.

But that’s just personal preference. I’m just psyched that OneNote 2013 is a freebie now!

There are ways to get best-of-breed office productivity software cheap, and you don’t even need to head over to the dark, unsanctioned regions of the Interwebs!

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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  1. says

    Word products are crazy expensive. A lot of students can get cheap Microsoft software for free or nearly free through their universities. Its worth checking out for those connected to Universities.

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