Thousands of computers will need upgrading in New Zealand come April 8 when Microsoft ends support for Windows XP and Office 2003. Microsoft will stop providing automatic updates for Windows XP, Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows and all versions of Microsoft Office 2003.
If you are upgrading your computer you should consider updating the version of Microsoft Office you are using too.
Office 365, one of the latest iterations of Microsoft's productivity suite, is designed for computers running Microsoft's Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 operating systems as well as Apple's Mac OS X 10.6 or later. How you pay for, and use, Office 365 is quite different to previous versions of Office.
Office 365 is subscription based, meaning for either $99.99 per year, or $9.99 per month, you currently get access to the 2013 Home Premium versions of the Office applications. They are: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher on up to five computers. There are bulk license options, too, for business users who have more than five machines.
The latest versions can be toggled between the traditional desktop mode, which anyone who has used previous versions of Office will be familiar with, as well as touch enabled mode, for anyone with a Windows 8 or 8.1 tablet computer.
The biggest change, however, is the default save location. Office 365 automatically saves documents to SkyDrive, Microsoft's virtual hard drive, allowing users to sign in to their Office documents from any machine with an internet connection. When coupled with a Windows Phone handset, which comes with Office integrated, it's easy to view and edit documents saved to SkyDrive on the run.
Each account comes with 7GB of free storage, and additional storage can be purchased from Microsoft.
Because it is subscription based Office 365 will always include the latest version of Office, meaning that as and when Microsoft rolls out new features to the suite they will automatically be included for subscribers.
Office 365 also integrates with Skype, which Microsoft also owns.