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Office 365 vs. Hosted Desktop

Posted on January 21st 2015


A question we answer daily is what is the difference between Office 365 and a hosted desktop solution? And which will work best for my business?

To find out which solution out of Office 365 and hosted desktop is most beneficial to your business, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between the two offerings and weigh up the pros and cons.

Both solutions are cloud based services which charge per user per month.

Office 365 is a business productivity suite with varying pricing tiers. The most common package is will give you online and offline access to the entire Office suite of applications including: Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint and Lync.

The offline part works just as you do today with a locally installed copy of Office and you can save your documents either locally or ideally your team space via SharePoint.

Other lower priced versions do not include licenses for local copies and or editing of documents online.

Pros of the Office 365 solution include:

  • A lower monthly cost per user month month than a hosted desktop solution.
  • Productivity can be increased as your employees can access your desktop from any machine that has web access without having to install a client program.
  • You won’t experience any issues with running graphic and video files as the processing is done on the local machine.
  • Fast internet connection is not necessarily required for everyday working, although it would be beneficial.

Cons of the Office 365 Solution include:

  • You are reliant on the local machine you are working on to be up-to-date.
  • Personalisation doesn’t show up when you aren’t working on your primary machine.
  • You will most likely need to be or have the help of a technical person to help with the set up and to guide you through the initial steps of using Office 365.
  • The applications a customer may want access to from multiple locations are not provided or resolved with the Office 365 solution, and many companies will find this an issue.
  • The solution generally works more seamlessly on PC’s than MAC’s.
  • The experience using Office 365 is generally not as good when using a phone or tablet compared to using a normal computer.

A hosted desktop solution provides your entire desktop including Microsoft Office and any other application your business runs all in the cloud. This is accessible on any device with an internet connection and access your personalised desktop exactly as it is today from anywhere.

Pros of a hosted desktop include:

  • It is a very simple and familiar solution for end users, without the need for an in-house member of staff with IT knowledge.
  • You can run most applications on any platform from PC’s, MAC’s or tablets.
  • Personalisation pulls through to any device used.
  • User experience is the same on a MAC as it is for a PC.
  • The device or machine used doesn’t have much work to do, extending the life of your hardware.
  • New users and leavers can be added and removed very easily.
  • You don’t need to own or upgrade servers ever again.

Cons of a hosted desktop include:

  • A hosted desktop is more expensive per user per month, however you get a lot more than just access to office.
  • The solution is reliant on a good and stable internet connection.
  • Entry level solutions cannot stream certain media (e.g. YouTube) properly and so you may need to drop back to the PC’s desktop or pay for a higher spec solution should you have the requirement.

A hybrid approach is a third consideration. A combination of the two solutions is also available, meaning you can make the most of both offerings.

If you would like to find out more about BCN Group’s tailored solutions or would like some guidance on which will benefit you and your business the most, please contact us on 0345 095 7000 or email