If you are new to Microsoft Office or plan to upgrade the suite of apps, you will come across two products, including Office 2019 and the Office apps from Microsoft 365, making the decision a little more difficult. Although these offerings give you access to the same set of apps, the difference comes down to the list of additional benefits and costs.
What you need to know about Office 2019
Microsoft Office 2019 is the name for the standalone version of the product, and it's the offering that does not require a subscription. This means you own the copy forever after the one-time purchase.
The standalone version of Office (also referred to as the "on-premises" or "perpetual" version) allows you to install and update the apps on one computer, but you cannot upgrade to the next version. In other words, you can continue to use the apps for their lifecycle (usually five years) and beyond (without updates). However, when you have to upgrade from Office 2019 to the upcoming Office 2021 or another version in the future, you will have to purchase the software again.
Office 2019 comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, but it includes only a limited scope of features and does not have the same benefits available with a Microsoft 365 subscription. For instance, you won't find cloud and AI-based features or other services like the premium version of "Outlook.com" and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage.
Who should buy Office 2019?
The Microsoft Office 2019 bundle is meant for commercial customers with volume licenses who are not ready for cloud-based applications and have specific requirements to use the suite of apps on-premise. However, anyone who doesn't like a subscription can purchase this product.
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 can afford the upfront cost and want a more traditional experience. It may also be a good choice if you plan to use the apps on one device. You do not need additional features or are not ready for the Microsoft 365 subscription.
Although you are only purchasing one license for one Windows 10 (or upcoming Windows 11) or macOS computer with this product, you can also install the apps on your mobile device, but with limited functionalities.
Office 2019 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 versions, Office 2019 is only supported on Windows 10 (and Windows 11) or the three most recent versions of macOS. If you want to install Office on Windows 8.1, you will need a Microsoft 365 subscription.
What you need to know about Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 is the name for the paid service that has replaced Office 365. The service has a different name, but it offers the same apps available with Office 2019, plus the benefits of the previous name. The only difference is that you will also get a lot of new extras.
Microsoft 365 is the new brand for the paid service that replaces Office 365.
Since this is a paid 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). However, this is as long as only five devices are accessing the account at one time.
Also, if you get the Family subscription plan, you can share the account with up to five additional users for a total of up to six people with one plan.
One of the most significant 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. For example, once available, you will be able to install the redesigned version of Office on Windows 11 or Windows 10.
The offering also lets you access 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 gets Microsoft support through phone and chat to resolve any issue with the apps.
If you have a lot of photos and videos, in addition to the already 1TB of cloud storage, you can 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, only the primary account holder can get the additional storage if you have the Family plan.
Who should buy Microsoft 365?
If you want to have all the benefits, Microsoft 365 is the best option since you will be able to install the apps on every device (Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and macOS). It is also the only option that provides continuous updates at a low cost of ownership. In contrast, Office 2019 only allows you to install the apps on one computer running Windows 10 (or Windows 11), 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 option comes in two flavors. If you would be the only one using the apps and cloud services, you can get the "Microsoft 365 Personal" plan for $70 a year (or $7/month), which gives you access to all the apps, alongside 1TB of OneDrive storage.
If you want to share the subscription with family or friends, the "Microsoft 365 Family" plan is the option you want to choose. It costs $100 per year ($10/month), you can share (using the "Services & subscriptions" tab in your Microsoft account online) the apps and benefits with up to six family members and friends, and everyone gets their own 1TB of OneDrive storage. Also, they can access the services on up to five devices at the same time.
Whatever plan you select, you will 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 a lot more.
Other premium features include Microsoft Editor for grammar checking, spelling, and writing style using AI assistance and other AI-based creative tools. For instance, PowerPoint Presenter Coach helps you to practice presentations, and Designer enables you to create effective slide presentations. Resume Assistant is a great tool to write the best resumes in Word with insights powered by Microsoft LinkedIn. Also, there's Money in Excel to view, track, and organize household finances. You will also be getting access to creative content like icons, fonts, stock photos, and premium templates for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
The subscription unlocks the premium version of Outlook.com, which features everything available with the free version, plus 50GB of storage, removes advertisements, and offers message encryption and enhanced security. As a paid member, you will also get 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, plus you do not have to worry about payments for a least a year.
The company also offers the service at no extra cost using a valid school email address if you are a student or teacher. 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 or Windows 11 (once released).
Office 2019 vs. Microsoft 365: Which should you buy?
The final decision comes down to how much you need from the apps and other services. If you plan to stay with Office for many years, Microsoft 365 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 stay productive with the latest features
Microsoft 365 gives you access to all the Office apps and extra features, such as 1TB of OneDrive, Outlook premium, 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), and they can use the service on up to five devices at the same time.
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 work done.
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