If you are new to Microsoft Office or plan to upgrade, you will stumble upon two options: Office 2019 and the Office apps from Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365), which can make the decision a little more complicated. Although these offerings give you access to the same set of apps, the difference comes down to the list of additional benefits and how each one will impact your wallet.
What you need to know about Office 2019
Microsoft Office 2019 is the name for the standalone version of the suite of apps 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) allows you to install and update the Office apps on one computer, but you cannot 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 from Office 2019 to the upcoming Office 2021, for example, you will have to purchase a new license.
Office 2019 comes with all the essential apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) but includes only a limited scope of features and does not include many of the benefits available with a Microsoft 365 subscription. For instance, you won't find cloud and AI-based features alongside other services, such as the premium version of "Outlook.com," 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, and free monthly credits to make calls to landlines using Skype.
Who should buy Office 2019?
The Microsoft Office 2019 package was designed for commercial customers with volume licenses and are not ready to transition to a cloud-connected version of Office and have specific requirements to use the apps on-premise. However, anyone can purchase this offering.
Anyone can purchase Office 2019, but this version has been designed for certain commercial customers.
If you consider yourself a home user, this option makes sense only if you want a more traditional approach and can afford the upfront cost. It may also be a good choice if you plan to use the applications on a single device. You do not need additional features or are not ready to make the leap to the Microsoft 365 subscription.
Although with this approach, you are only purchasing one license for one Windows 10 or macOS computer, you can also install the apps on your mobile device, but with limited functionalities.
The Microsoft Office 2019 offering comes in two flavors, including Office Home & Student 2019 and Office Home & Business 2019, and they are usually priced at $150 and $250, respectively. Office Home & Student 2019 comes with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, while Office Home & Business 2019 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
Unlike previous releases, Office 2019 is only supported on Windows 10 or the three most recent versions of macOS. If you want to install Office on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you will have to use a Microsoft 365 subscription.
What you need to know about Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 is the new marketing name for the paid service that replaces Office 365. While the service has a new name, you are still getting the same apps available with Office 2019 and the same benefits from the previous brand. The only difference is that you will also be getting a lot of new extras.
Microsoft 365 is the new brand for the paid service that replaces Office 365.
Since this is a subscription-based service, you will be making payments every month (or every year) to use the suite of apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access, and others on all your devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones). Of course, as long as only six devices are accessing the account at one time.
Also, if you get the Family subscription plan, you can share the benefits with up to five additional users for a total of up to six people with one account.
Perhaps one of the service's biggest advantages is that you never have to worry about upgrades ever again. When you install the Office apps from Microsoft 365, you are always in the latest version. This means that once the apps are installed on the device, they will automatically receive security and maintenance updates, improvements, and new features as soon as they are ready.
You will also have access to cloud-based features to enhance your productivity in school, office, and across devices (Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android). Every person you share the account with will get 1TB of OneDrive storage (up to 6TB in total with the Family subscription) and Skype minutes. 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 videos, in addition to the already 1TB of cloud storage, you can also 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. However, there is one caveat, if you have the Family plan, only the primary account holder can get the separate terabyte.
Who should buy Microsoft 365?
If you must have 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). It's also the only option that provides continuous updates at a low cost. In contrast, Office 2019 only allows you to install the apps on one device 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 flavors. If you are the only person planning to use 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 want to share the subscription with family or friends, the "Microsoft 365 Family" (formerly "Office 365 Home") plan is the option you want. It costs $100 per year ($10/month), you can share (using the "Services & subscriptions" tab in your Microsoft account) the apps and benefits with up to six people, and everyone gets their own 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Whatever plan you get, you will also have access to the additional services, including the Microsoft Family Safety experience to manage screen time, app and game usage, share location, monitor driving behavior for young drivers, and much more.
Other premium features include Microsoft Editor for grammar checking, spelling, and writing style using AI assistance (similar to Grammarly) and other AI-based creative tools. For instance, PowerPoint Presenter Coach to help you practice presentations and Designer to help you create effective slide presentations. Resume Assistant to craft the best resumes in Word with insights powered by Microsoft LinkedIn. 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 fonts.
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. Furthermore, as a paid member, you will also get access to special offers from Microsoft partners.
Some services bundled with Microsoft 365 are also available without a subscription using a Microsoft account, but they have limited functionalities that can be unlocked only 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 offers the service at no extra cost using a valid school email address. This plan lets you install Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams, and other school tools on your computer for free.
Windows 7 is no longer supported, but 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.
Office 2019 vs. Microsoft 365: Which should you buy?
The final decision will depend on how much you need from the apps and the cloud service. If you plan to stay with Office for many years, the Microsoft 365 subscription is perhaps your 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 features
Microsoft 365 (Office 365) gives you access to all the Office apps and extra features, such as 1TB of OneDrive, Outlook 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 (using 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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