You're never going to love Office, because it's Office—it's the thing you use to make money and do things you actually enjoy. But that doesn't mean it can't be (relatively) painless, affordable, and smart. Starting today, it is.
Office 365 Home Premium is a fancy word for Microsoft's new subscription-based, cloud-hosted way of getting Word, PowerPoint, and Excel (plus corporate stuff, if you want it). Discs are obsolete—this is a very modern Office, and frankly, it's as lovely as word processing and spreadsheets (blech!) can be.
What Is It?
The usual Microsoft Office suite, available as a permanent download, temporarily-streamed software, or web apps.
Who's It For?
Anyone who needs to get work done, be it homework or business work.
Office 2013 (the latest version you get with the 365 subscription) doesn't quite hit the same sweet design notes as Microsoft's overall Metro UI, but it's the least-ugly Office yet. And that's saying something! The interface is clean, and the option to space everything out for touch is welcome.
You already know how to use Office—and everything will still be mostly familiar. Certain features are repositioned, but it's nothing a day of acclimation won't fix. And yes, it's totally usable on a tablet or touchscreen.
The Best Part
Everything you do is accessible pretty much anywhere you are—your phone, five of your computers, or a web browser on any computer in the world. It's the best parts of Office's concrete productivity with the flexibility of Google Docs. Super convenient, constantly-synced.
Mac users are still pretty boned. Microsoft says the OS X version of Office will continue to be 18 months behind Windows, so your iMac won't be able to touch Office 2013 until well after 2013.
This Is Weird...
To link up with Office 365's all my docs are everywhere cloud-based sync ballet, you have to log in with a Microsoft ID. No problem. You'll then be asked to log in over and over, whenever you access different parts of the software. Problem.
Should You Buy It?
Whether you spend $10 a month on a month-by-month basis or spring for a year upfront, Office 365 is a hell of a good deal. There's a very good chance you need this software in order to pay the bills or graduate. You're not going to be grinning and weeping while you make PowerPoint presentations, but Office is friendlier and more economical than at any point in its history. Your dorm room or cubicle will be happier.
Still, if you can get by with the basic bits of Google Docs for bare bones word processing, you can probably skip all this. [Office.com]
Pricing: $10/Month, $100 for an entire year, $80 for four years (students and teachers)