Software Subscription model vs offline copy

subscribe or not

subscribe or not

Current trend is for major software developers to convince consumer to subscribe to their software on a monthly or yearly fees. A lot of people that I know do not seem to like this idea very much. In fact , when we try to introduce this model to people as an alternative, we almost always get resistance from them. They will prefer to own the software by paying much more. But is subscription model really so bad for the consumer? Let’s take a look and discuss about this in this article.

To narrow down the scope, we shall examine Microsoft Office suite which have gone on subscription model.

What is subscription model for software?

Subscription means having to pay monthly or yearly fees for the product, which in this case, is the software you will like to use. The moment the subscription is not valid, the software installed in your computer will cease to be usable.

While subscription is ongoing for these software, the software developers will release updates for the software installed in your computer and you will always enjoy the latest version and features available for the software.

What is offline retail software?

Versus subscription model, these type of software are usually activated via product key and once purchased and activated, these software do not come with expiry date. You may enjoy updates of the software tied to the current version that you have purchased, but once the software manufacturer develops a new version of the software, you will not receive any updates tied to the new version. You will only enjoy the features tied to current version purchased.

Subscription vs offline copy

There are various pros and cons supporting both models; let’s take a look at them below.

Subscription model



Enjoy latest version of the software Software stop working when user stop paying. Ongoing investment is required as long as software is needed for work.
On demand basis, when no longer need to use the software, just stop paying
Usually supports cloud storage and account synchronization. For instance, using the microsoft id, can access to documents from another computer. Usage of account is based on individual ID rather thn device. So same id can access to files across devices. Needs internet access for account synchronization.
Able to reset password to regain control of subscription ID if password is lost.
Per user cost per month is usually approximately around 10 over dollars to less than hundred dollars, depending on types of software required Per user costing may be quite high if company have many employees needing access to many softwares on subscription model


Retail offline copy



Available offline, no expiry date. Newer version of software not supported
One time investment costs Software tied to machine, not transferable
User may not always need latest features in the software. Older software file formats may not be compatible with newer versions of files used.
If licence key or software installer is misplaced, will not be able to reinstall software back to machine. Over time, it may be administratively difficult to keep track of which software is tied to which machine.
After some time, software may not be supported by latest operating system.


Sometimes, it makes sense to calculate the subscription payout to manufacturer for ongoing usage of the software versus taking the more expensive price by buying the offline copy of the software.

Microsoft Office suite

Microsoft office is so popular that people associate office suites literally with Microsoft Office. The subscription model for Microsoft office is divided to cater for individual ,family users and corporate business users.

For home users, following plans are available:

MS office home and student

MS office home and student


For small office users, these are the plans available:

MS office small business

MS office small business


The office suites , whether subscription or retail copy can bit be purchased from retail stores or online directly from Microsoft Singapore based on this link:

As you will have already noticed, the subscription model for Microsoft office actually offers the full suite of software including publisher and access for both home as well as business users. Whereas if you want the retail copy of publisher and access, you will need to invest up to over five hundred dollars to use the software. Most people, especially small business will only need the usual three programs together with outlook, and hence will costs $299 for each retail pack licence. So if you do need the full suite of Microsoft programs, it may make sense to subscribe to the software.

For home users, if there are more than one computer within the family which need to use Microsoft office, then taking the family pack subscription model has very good value as one year subscription is $138, meaning that up to five computers within the family pays $11.50 per month to use the whole office suites which gets updated so long as the subscription is valid.

In conclusion, the subscription model for microsoft office may not necessarily be a bad deal if your household has few machines needs to install microsoft office.


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