If you're planning to upgrade, or you're new to Microsoft Office, you probably noticed that now you have two options: Office 2019 and Microsoft 365 (Office 365). If you're a little confused about which one to choose, you're not alone. Although both products give you access to the same apps with the latest core features, some significant differences come down to the cost of ownership and the list of enhancements.
Office 2019 is the name that Microsoft is using for the standalone version of its popular suite of office apps. It doesn't require a monthly subscription, meaning that once you go through the one-time purchase, you own the copy forever.
Using this option (also known as the "perpetual" or "on-premises" version of Office), you can install the apps on one computer, and you'll get security updates. But you won't be able to upgrade to a follow-up version. This means that you can keep using the version that you purchased for its life-cycle (usually five years) and beyond (without updates), but if you want to access the new features and tools, you'll need to pay full price again.
Also, even though Office 2019 comes with apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook with more improvements than the older version, it only ships with a subset of features and without many of the perks available with a Microsoft 365 subscription. For example, with the 2019 version, you won't find cloud and AI features, along with benefits such as 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage and free monthly credits to make calls to landlines using Skype.
Who should buy Office 2019
Although anyone can purchase Office 2019, this version has been designed for commercial customers with volume licenses in mind who aren't yet ready to transition to a cloud-based version of Office and happen to have specific requirements to use the suite of apps on-premise.
Although anyone can purchase Office 2019, this version has been designed for certain commercial customers.
If you're a regular consumer, this is still (somewhat) a good option if you prefer a more traditional approach. If you plan to install the suite on a single device, don't depend on new features, or are not ready to start using cloud-based applications, then it's also a solid choice.
Additionally, while you're getting a license for one PC or Mac going with the one-time purchase option, you can install the Office apps on all your mobile devices, but you'll only get some basic features.
Office 2019 comes in two flavors, including "Office Home & Student 2019" and "Office Home & Business 2019," and they're typically priced at $150 and $250 per device, respectively. Office Home & Student 2019 comes with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, while Office Home & Business 2019 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote.
Also, consider that unlike previous perpetual versions, Office 2019 is only supported on devices running Windows 10 or the three most recent versions of macOS. If you must use the most up-to-date version of Office and still on Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, you have to purchase a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Microsoft 365 features
Microsoft 365 is the new name of the subscription service that replaces Office 365. However, it offers the same benefits, the same apps available with Office 2019, plus additional apps, features, and perks.
Using this option, you'll be paying a monthly or yearly subscription fee giving you access to apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access, and others across your devices (PC, Mac, tablet, and phone) as long as only six devices are accessing the account at a time. Also, depending on your subscription plan, you can share the account with up to five additional people for a total of six people with one subscription.
Perhaps one of the best parts about getting a subscription plan is that you never have to worry about new versions. When you're using Microsoft 365 (Office 365), you'll always be running the most up-to-date version of Microsoft's apps. This unlocks regular security updates, improvements, and, more importantly, access to the latest features and tools as soon as they become available.
You also get cloud features (such as real-time collaboration and AI features) to help boost your productivity when working from home, school, work, and across devices. Also, as part of the bundle, everyone gets 1TB of OneDrive storage (up to 6TB in total when using the Family subscription), Skype minutes to make calls to landlines, and you can contact the support line with any question you may have.
If you need even more storage, in addition to the already 1TB of cloud storage, subscribers can also purchase up to an additional 1TB of OneDrive storage on 200GB increments for an extra $1.99 per month, doubling the total storage up to 2TB (1TB already included with bundled and 1TB additional subscription) in their account for $9.99. This option is only available for Microsoft 365 "Personal" and "Family" subscribers. However, if you're sharing the account using a Personal subscription with other people, only the primary account holder can access the separate full terabyte.
Similar to Office 2019, you can install Office with Microsoft 365 on your mobile devices, but unlike the perpetual version, you'll get access to the complete array of features.
Who should buy Microsoft 365
If you need access to the suite of apps, Microsoft 365 (Office 365) is perhaps your best choice, as it's the only option that ensures continuity of updates and upgrades at a low cost. Also, you get access to all the apps, which you can install on all your devices, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and macOS. (Office 2019 only allows you to use apps on a single computer running Windows 10.)
If you need access to the suite of apps, Office 365 is perhaps your best choice.
The subscription service comes with different plans. If you're the only person using the apps and services, you can purchase the "Microsoft 365 Personal" (formerly "Office 365 Personal") plan for $70 a year, which gives you access to the software suite, alongside 1TB of OneDrive storage and Skype minutes.
However, if you're planning to share the account with family members or roommates, you should select the "Microsoft 365 Family" (formerly "Office 365 Home") plan for $100 a year, which allows you to share the apps and benefits with up to six people. Plus, everyone gets their Skype minutes and 1TB of OneDrive storage.
If you choose to buy into a subscription plan, you should purchase the yearly subscription as you'll be spending more money paying the monthly fee.
Microsoft even has a free subscription plan for students and teachers using a valid school email address. Using this service, you'll get access to Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams, and other school tools for free.
Important: Although the name has changed on April 21, 2020, the new subscription plans are meant to improve service at the same price with more apps, such as Microsoft Teams (consumer), Microsoft Family Safety, and feature like Microsoft Editor, PowerPoint Presenter Coach, and Money in Excel. (Some features and apps mentioned in this article, such as the consumer version of Teams and "Money in Excel," are not yet available.)
Windows 7 has reached the end of support, but Microsoft will continue to offer security updates for Office apps until January 2023, but you won't receive new features. Once you upgrade to Windows 10, support will resume with regular security patches, new features, and improvements.
So, which should you buy?
Ultimately, it'll depend on your requirements. However, if you'll be using the apps for a long time, purchasing a Microsoft 365 subscription is perhaps your best option, because you get full access to all the apps and perks with low cost of ownership.
Stay productive with the latest features
Microsoft 365 (Office 365) gives you full access to all the apps and perks, such as 1TB OneDrive and Skype minutes. You can also install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other apps on up to six devices, and depending on the subscription, you can share the account with up to six people.
Pay once and forget it.
Office 2019 comes with all the popular apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, with enough features to get the work done.
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