May 05, 2014, 4:20 PM — Maybe it's the recent release of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for the iPad. Maybe you want to make sure you have access to the latest version of Microsoft's Office suite on your multiple Macs (and even PCs). Or perhaps you want the perks, such as 27GB of total OneDrive cloud storage per user and an hour of free Skype world minutes each month. Whatever the reason, you've weighed your options and decided that an Office 365 subscription makes sense for you.
So now you're stuck paying $10 a month or $100 a year for an Office 365 Home subscription, right? Not exactly. If you know a few tricks, you can get some free time on your subscription, and also save money over Microsoft's standard yearly rate. (We'll assume you don't want to go with Microsoft's Office 365 Personal subscription, which costs $7 a month or $70 a year, but limits you to use on one computer and one tablet.)
Get a free month
The first thing you should know is that anyone can sign up for a free one-month trial of Office 365 Home. You'll need to have or set up a free Microsoft account. If you already have a Windows Live ID--or Xbox Live, Outlook.com, or OneDrive account--you've already got what you need. You'll have to provide a credit card, and you'll be billed $10 if you don't cancel before the free month is up.
Don't buy from Microsoft
Before that trial period is up, you should have a pretty good sense of whether or not you're ready to commit to a full year of Office 365 (which, as indicated earlier, provides a savings over the month-to-month option). But instead of subscribing from Microsoft's website, or making a $100 in-app purchase via one of the Office for iPad apps, look elsewhere.