If you are new to Microsoft Office or plan to upgrade, you will find out that there are two options, including Office 2019 and Office from Microsoft 365, which can complicate the decision making. Although these Microsoft offerings give you access to the same set of apps, the difference drills down to the list of extras and cost of ownership.
Microsoft 365 is the name of the paid service that replaces "Office 365." Although it has a new marketing name, you are still getting the same apps available with Office 2019 and the same benefits from the previous name. However, the new branding also brings more apps and features.
Since this is a subscription-based service, you will be paying a monthly/yearly fee to access the suite of apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access, and others on all your devices (PC, Mac, tablet, and phones). Of course, as long as only six devices are accessing the account at a given time.
Also, depending on the plan, you can share the subscription with up to five additional users for a total of six people with one account.
One of the best parts of the service is that you never have to worry about upgrades. When you install the Office apps with Microsoft 365, you are always in the most recent release. This means that once the apps are installed on the device, they will continuously receive security and maintenance updates, improvements, and future versions will install automatically.
You will also have access to cloud-based features (such as AI and real-time collaboration) to stay even more productive in school, office, and across devices (Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android). Everyone gets 1TB of OneDrive storage (up to 6TB in total with the Family subscription) and Skype minutes to call landlines. The subscription also gives you access to the Microsoft support line to resolve any issue with the apps.
If you have a lot of pictures and other files, in addition to the already 1TB of cloud storage, there is also an option to purchase up to 1TB of additional OneDrive storage on 200GB increments for an extra $1.99 per month, doubling the total storage capacity to 2TB (1TB already included with the plan and 1TB with the additional plan) for $9.99 per month. The option is available for Microsoft 365 "Personal" and "Family" members. The only caveat is that only the primary account holder can purchase the separate terabyte with the Family plan.
Who should buy Microsoft 365
If you need everything that the suite has to offer, Microsoft 365 (Office 365) is the best option since you get all the apps to install on every device (Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and macOS). Also, it is the only option that provides continuity of updates and upgrades at a low cost. In contrast, Office 2019 only allows you to install the apps on one computer running Windows 10, and you have to pay again for upgrades.
If you need access to the suite of apps, Microsoft 365 is perhaps your best choice.
The cloud service comes in two different flavors. If you are the only one that will be using the apps and cloud services, you can get the "Microsoft 365 Personal" (formerly "Office 365 Personal") plan for $70 a year (or $7/month), which gives you access to all the apps, alongside 1TB of OneDrive storage and Skype minutes.
If you are planning to share the subscription with family or friends, the "Microsoft 365 Family" (formerly "Office 365 Home") plan is your best option. It costs $100 per year ($10/month), you can share the apps and benefits with up to six people, and everyone gets 1TB of OneDrive storage.
In either case, you will also have access to the additional services, including Microsoft Family Safety to manage screen time, app and game usage, share location, monitor driving behavior for young drivers, and much more across family members.
Other premium features include Microsoft Editor to check grammar, spelling, and writing style using AI assistance (similar to Grammarly), and other AI-based creative tools, including PowerPoint Presenter Coach, Ideas, Resume Assistant, and Designer. And Money in Excel to view, track, and organize household finances. You will also be getting access to creative content like stock photos, icons, premium templates, and font families.
Furthermore, the subscription will unlock the premium version of Outlook.com, including everything available with the free version, plus 50GB of storage, no ads, message encryption, and enhanced security.
Some services bundled with Microsoft 365 are also available without a subscription using a Microsoft account, but they have limited functionalities that can only be unlocked with a subscription.
When you choose one of the subscriptions, you should get the yearly plan to save money in the long run, plus you do not have to worry about payments for a least a year.
If you are a student or teacher, Microsoft also has a free subscription plan, which you can obtain joining with a valid school email address. This plan lets you install Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams, and other school tools on your device at no extra cost.
Although Windows 7 is no longer supported, Microsoft will continue to offer security updates for the Office apps until January 2023. However, new features won't be available until you upgrade to Windows 10.
Microsoft Office 2019 is the name for the standalone version that does not require a subscription. This means that you own the copy forever after the one-time purchase.
The standalone version (also referred to as the "on-premises" or "perpetual" version of Office) allows you to install and update the apps on one device, but you won't be able to upgrade to a newer version. In other words, you can continue to use the apps for their lifecycle (usually five years) and beyond (without updates). However, if you want to upgrade, you will have to purchase a new license again.
Office 2019 comes with all the essential apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) but only includes a subset of features and lacks many of the benefits of a Microsoft 365 subscription. For example, you won't find cloud and AI-based features, along with other services, such as Outlook.com premium, 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, and free monthly credits to make calls to landlines using Skype.
Who should buy Office 2019
Microsoft Office 2019 is available for commercial customers in mind that use volume licenses who are not ready to transition to a cloud-based version of Office and have specific requirements to use the apps on-premise. However, anyone can still choose this offering.
Although anyone can purchase Office 2019, this version has been designed for certain commercial customers.
If you are a regular consumer, this option only makes sense if you prefer a more traditional approach and do not mind paying the upfront cost. It is also a good choice if you only plan to use the apps on one computer, additional features are not necessary, or you are not ready to make the leap to Microsoft 365.
While you are getting one license for a Windows or macOS-based device, using the one-time purchase option, you can also install the core apps on mobile devices, but the functionalities will be limited.
Office 2019 comes in two editions, including "Office Home & Student 2019" and "Office Home & Business 2019," and they are usually 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, and Outlook.
Unlike previous versions, Office 2019 is only supported on Windows 10 or one of the three most recent macOS versions. If you have to install this version of Office on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you will have to use a Microsoft 365 subscription.
So, which should you buy?
The final decision depends on how much do you need from the apps and services. However, if you plan to stick to Office for many years, purchasing a Microsoft 365 subscription is perhaps the best option. The reason is that with the subscription, you will get full access to the apps and benefits at a low cost of ownership.
Get more and increase productivity with the latest enhancements
Microsoft 365 (Office 365) gives you access to all the Office apps and extra features, such as 1TB of OneDrive, Outlook.com premium, Skype minutes, and AI-based features. You can also install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other apps on up to six devices, and you can share the subscription with up to six people when you choose the Family plan.
Pay once and use it forever
Office 2019 includes all the popular apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, with all the features you need to get the work done.
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