Difference Between Microsoft Office Student Edition and Professional

By Amanda Knaebel

Updated August 24, 2017

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Microsoft Office programs are staples for students and business professionals everywhere, but choosing which edition to purchase can be a bit tricky because Microsoft often changes the names of its Office packages. Whether you prefer an Office 365 subscription or the stand-alone programs for PC or Mac, understand the differences between your options so you can choose the best solution for your personal needs.

Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is available as a yearly or monthly subscription and comes with access to the most popular Office programs as well as additional features like cloud storage and Skype credit. The Home and Personal editions include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. PC users of either version also get Access and Publisher, but these programs aren’t available on Macs.

Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home are very similar; the main difference is that Personal covers only one PC or Mac, one tablet and one phone, while Home allows you to use your applications on up to five total PCs and Macs, five tablets and five phones. Both versions offer 1 TB of OneDrive storage and 60 Skype calling minutes per month, but Personal includes these benefits only for single users. Office 365 Home allows up to five different users to take advantage of their own OneDrive storage space (at 1 TB for each user) and Skype calling minutes.

Business Office 365 packages require an annual commitment, and companies pay a monthly fee per user. Office 365 for Business is the basic professional package. It’s nearly identical to Office 365 Home, except companies can pay for up to 300 users (each user can use the programs on five computers, five tablets and five phones) and it doesn’t include Skype calling minutes.

Office 365 Business Premium includes the same features as the basic business package, as well as custom domain email addresses and access to Microsoft Teams, Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer and Skype for business with unlimited high-definition video conferencing for up to 250 people.

Students and teachers can use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote through Office 365 for free if they sign up under a valid school email address, assuming their schools have enrolled in the program. Some schools pay for Office 365 Education E5. If you’re a student or teacher at one of these schools, you’ll be able to use Publisher and Access on PCs in addition to the programs available to free Office 365 for Education accounts.

Desktop Office Applications

If you’d rather not pay for an Office 365 subscription, you can make a one-time purchase of Office 2016 to install the major desktop Office applications. Both Office Home & Student 2016 and Office Home & Business 2016 include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The Home & Business version includes Outlook as well. These one-time purchase packages allow you to install the programs on only one computer, and neither include OneDrive storage or Skype minutes like the Office 365 packages.

Older Office Versions

Office 2007: If you have an older version of Microsoft Office, it may be labeled as a student or professional edition. Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, while the Professional edition includes the programs most likely to be used by business users – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Accounting Express and Publisher.

Office 2010: Office 2010 Home & Student includes the same four programs as the 2007 Home & Student edition (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), but the 2010 Professional edition is slightly different from its predecessor. The Professional version includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Outlook and Publisher. The Office 2013 Home & Student and Professional editions contain the same respective programs as their 2007 counterparts.

Office 2013: When Office 2013 was released, Microsoft allowed Office 365 subscribers to download Office 2013 as part of their subscriptions, but the company discontinued that option on February 28, 2017. If you made a one-time purchase of Office 2013 separate from Office 365, you can still use your programs, however.

Though they’re not currently available for sale, Microsoft allows users who have previously purchased Office 2007, Office 2010 or Office for Mac 2011 to re-download the programs from their website. You’ll need your 25-character Office product key, which you can find on the box if you purchased a physical disc. If you made your purchase online, you’ll find the product key in your original confirmation email.