If you are new to Microsoft Office or plan to upgrade, you probably noticed two options: Office 2019 and Office from Microsoft 365. If you are confused about which one to choose, you're not the only one. Although these products give you access to the same set of applications, the difference comes down to the list of enhancements and cost of ownership.
Office 2019 is the name that Microsoft uses for the standalone version of its popular suite of apps. It doesn't require a subscription, meaning that you own the copy forever after the one-time purchase.
Using the standalone version (also known as the "perpetual" or "on-premises" version of Office), you can install the apps on one device, and you'll receive security updates. However, you won't be able to upgrade to a follow-up version. This means that you can keep using the apps you've purchased for its lifecycle (usually five years) and beyond (without updates), but if you want to use the new features and enhancements, you'll have to purchase a new license again.
Although Office 2019 comes with apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook with more improvements than the older version, it only comes with a subset of features. Also, it lacks many of the benefits available with a Microsoft 365 subscription. For example, with the latest version of Office, you won't find cloud and AI features, along with other benefits, such as 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, Outlook.com premium, and free monthly credits to make calls to landlines using Skype.
Who should buy Office 2019
Office 2019 was created specifically for commercial customers with volume licenses in mind who are not ready to transition to a cloud-based version of Office and have specific requirements to use the suite of apps on-premise, but anyone can purchase this offering.
Although anyone can purchase Office 2019, this version has been designed for certain commercial customers.
If you are a regular consumer, this is a good option only if you prefer a more traditional approach and can afford the price tag. If you plan to use the apps on one device, additional features are not necessary, or you are not ready to start using cloud-based applications, it's also a solid choice.
While you are getting a license for one PC or Mac using the one-time purchase option, you can install the core apps on mobile devices, but with limited functionality.
Office 2019 comes in two editions, including "Office Home & Student 2019" and "Office Home & Business 2019," and they are 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, and Outlook.
Furthermore, 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 have to use the latest version of Office on Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, you have to use a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Microsoft 365 is the name of the paid service that replaces Office 365. Although the name is now different, you are still getting the same apps available with Office 2019 and the same benefits as before. However, with the new branding, you also get additional apps, features, and perks.
This option involves paying a monthly (or yearly) subscription, which gives you access to all the most popular apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access, and others for all your devices, including PC, Mac, and mobile. (As long as only six devices are accessing the account at a time.)
Also, depending on the subscription plan you select, you can share the account with up to five additional people for a total of six people with one plan.
The best part about the subscription service is that you never have to worry about the next version. When you install the suite of Office apps with Microsoft 365, you'll always have the latest version available. This includes security and maintenance updates, improvements, and access to the most recent features and tools.
You also get cloud features (for example, AI and real-time collaboration) to make you even more productive in school, office, and across devices. As part of the offering, everyone gets 1TB of OneDrive storage (up to 6TB in total with the Family subscription) and Skype minutes to call landlines. Also, at any time, you can contact Microsoft directly with any questions and problems since you get ongoing support with this tier of the service.
If you have a lot of files, in addition to the already 1TB of cloud storage, you can also get up to an additional 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage on 200GB increments for an extra $1.99 per month, doubling the total storage up to 2TB (1TB already included with the plan and 1TB with the additional plan) in their account for $9.99. The option is available for Microsoft 365 "Personal" and "Family" members. However, only the primary account holder can purchase the separate terabyte if you're using the Family plan.
Who should buy Microsoft 365
If you need access to the suite of apps fully unlocked, Microsoft 365 (Office 365) is perhaps the best choice since it's the only option that offers continuity of updates and upgrades at a low cost. Also, you get access to all the desktop apps, which you can install on every device, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and macOS. In contrast, Office 2019 only allows you to install the apps on one computer running Windows 10.
If you need access to the suite of apps, Microsoft 365 is perhaps your best choice.
The subscription service comes with two different plans. If you'd be the only person using the apps and cloud services, you can purchase the "Microsoft 365 Personal" (formerly "Office 365 Personal") plan for $70 a year, which gives you access to all the apps, alongside 1TB of OneDrive storage and Skype minutes.
If you want to share the account with family members or friends, you should select the "Microsoft 365 Family" (formerly "Office 365 Home") plan that costs $100 per year because it allows you to share the apps and benefits with up to six people. Also, everyone gets their 1TB of OneDrive storage and Skype minutes.
On either plan, you'll also be able to access a slew of additional services, such as Microsoft Family Safety to manage screen time, app and game usage, share location, monitor driving behavior for young drivers, and more across family members.
Other premium features include Microsoft Editor to check spelling, grammar, and writing style. Creative tools are driven by AI like PowerPoint Presenter Coach, Ideas, Resume Assistant, and Designer. Creative content, such as stock photos, templates, icons, and fonts. Money in Excel to view, track, and organize your household finances.
Some apps and services bundled with Microsoft 365 are also available for free, but with limited functionalities, which can only be unlocked with a subscription.
You'll also be upgraded to Outlook.com premium, which includes more features like 50GB of storage, no ads, message encryption, and better security than the popular email service's free tier.
If you choose to get one of these plans, you should purchase the yearly subscription plan because 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. With this service, you'll get access to Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams, and other school tools for free.
Windows 7 is no longer a supported OS. However, Microsoft will continue to offer security updates for the Office apps until January 2023, but new features won't be available until you upgrade to Windows 10.
So, which should you buy?
Ultimately, the answer will depend on how you'll be using the apps. But, if you'll be using the suite for years to come, purchasing a Microsoft 365 subscription is perhaps your best option because you get full access to all the apps and benefits with a low cost of ownership.
Get more and increase productivity with the latest features
Microsoft 365 gives you access to all the Office apps and perks, such as 1TB of OneDrive, Skype minutes, and Outlook.com premium. You can also install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other desktop apps on up to six devices, and depending on the plan, you can share the account with up to six people.
Pay once and use it forever
Office 2019 comes with 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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