Review: Microsoft Office pricey, but good value

Review: Microsoft Office pricey, but good value
NEW YORK (AP) - As much as I like Google Docs for word processing and spreadsheets, I find the online software clunky at times. So I was skeptical when I heard Microsoft is trying to sell its new version of Office as an online subscription.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the subscription gets you the same software you'd get buying it at a retail store. In fact, I'm using the new Office 2013 to write this review, and it feels as smooth as the customized version of Office 2010 I regularly use.

With an online subscription, you keep paying Microsoft to use the latest version of the software, rather than pay the company once for software that gets outdated over time. It's pricey, at $100 a year, compared with the traditional way of paying a one-time fee that starts at $140 and is good for years. Nonetheless, households with several computers will find subscriptions a good value, as one subscription is good for up to five Windows or Mac machines.

At first glance, Office 2013 resembles Office 2010, whether you buy it as a subscription or out of a box. There's a row of buttons - the ribbon - with quick access to the tools you need most. Files are compatible, so you can send Office 2013 documents to someone who has only Office 2010 (as I'm doing with this review).

What Office 2013 does, though, is embrace Microsoft's touch-screen philosophy. Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, which came out last fall, enables touch-screen controls so desktop and laptop computers work more like tablets. It's Microsoft's way of addressing a