Office 365 is a subscription-based service that brings you the most current Office apps (now 2019) for a yearly or monthly price. Home, Personal, and University plans are available, and 1TB of OneDrive storage is included for each user.
- 1TB OneDrive storage included
- 60 Skype call minutes included
- Home version includes apps for up to six users
- Multiple plans to choose from
- Receive all future Office updates
- Subscription means more money in the long run
Office 2019, available in Home and Student, Home and Business, and Professional packages, is a one-time purchase that brings you the Office 2019 apps as they are, without any updates to future generations of the software.
- One-time purchase
- Multiple plans to choose from
- 60 days of Microsoft support included
- No OneDrive storage included
- Will not receive new apps when released
- No Skype minutes included
While you'll get the core Office apps you love with either Office 365 or Office 2019, there are quite a few differences between the two options. With a subscription to Office 365, you will pay more for years of service, but you do get quite a few more features, including OneDrive storage and Skype minutes. If you'd rather buy once and stick with a set of apps and don't mind the lack of OneDrive storage and, in some cases, fewer apps, Office 2019 is likely a better choice.
Office 365 vs. Office 2019: Quick-reference table
Let's break down some of the major differences between Office products to help you decide which is best for you.
|Office 365||Office 2019|
|Price||Personal: $70/year or $7/month (opens in new tab)|
Home:$100/year or $10/month (opens in new tab)
University: $80 (4 years) (opens in new tab)
|Home & Student: $150 (opens in new tab)|
Home & Business: $250 (opens in new tab)
Professional: $440 (opens in new tab)
Home: Up to 6
|Home & Student: Word|
Home & Business: Word
|Home & Student: PC or Mac|
Home & Business: PC or Mac
|Skype minutes||60 monthly||None|
|OneDrive storage||1TB per user||None|
Apps and pricing
Office 365, whether Personal, Home, or University, is a subscription-based service. If you choose to pay on a yearly basis, you essentially get a discount that works out to two free months per year. If you choose to pay on a monthly basis you'll pay a bit more by the end of the year, but you'll also have the ability to back out of your subscription at the end of any month.
The monthly subscription plan is, therefore, better for students who only need Office for a few months out of the year, and a yearly subscription is great for anyone working from home. Students and teachers enrolled or working at certain schools might even be eligible for a free subscription to Office 365 Education (opens in new tab).
If you're a university student, there's also the option of buying a four-year subscription to Office 365 University. It costs about $80 (opens in new tab) for an entire four years of access, but only if you meet the requirements (you're enrolled in university). This is an excellent deal and one that's taken advantage of by many students, though keep in mind after the four years are up you will have to repurchase a plan in order to get access.
Office 2019 is more of a classic buy-once deal. This is better for those of you who want to purchase an item once and have it forever. If you only want Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Office Home & Student 2019 (opens in new tab) is worth look a look.
Keep in mind, though, that Office 2019 only receives security and bug updates and does not get any of the major new features coming in the future. If you buy an Office 365 subscription today and keep it going until, say, 2022, you'll basically have Office 2022. If you buy Office 2019 today and keep it until 2022, you'll still have the same old Office 2019 apps without any new features.
As for access to apps, if you want the full suite, you have to go with either Office 365 or Office Professional 2019. As you can see in the table above, buying an Office Professional 2019 plan, which has the same apps as Office 365 but doesn't have the same cloud storage or multiple device functionality, will set you back about $440 (opens in new tab). For the same apps, 1TB of OneDrive storage, and the ability to install the apps on a PC, a tablet, and a phone, you only pay about $70 for a year (opens in new tab) with Office 365 Personal.
Bottom line? If you can't be bothered with subscriptions and you want to buy one version of Office and stick with it for years without receiving anything other than security and bug updates, go with a version of Office 2019 that suits you best. However, if you want to always have the latest software with all the latest features — including OneDrive storage, Skype minutes, and multiple-device compatibility — Office 365 should be your first choice.
One of the best aspects of Office 365 is the ability to use it on multiple devices. If you have a household of people who all use different operating systems and devices, you probably want to go with a subscription to Office 365 Home, which is good for six users across PC or Mac, tablet, and phone. Office 365 Personal and University are meant for a single user, though the apps can still be used across devices for ultimate convenience.
All versions of Office 2019 can only be installed on one PC or Mac (except for Professional which is limited to PC). This is fine for those who mainly do their work at a desk, but the price can add up quickly if you have more than one PC that needs Office apps.
Keep in mind that there are versions of Office apps available for Windows 10 Mobile (opens in new tab), Android (opens in new tab) and iOS (opens in new tab), which you can get for free regardless of any subscriptions or previous purchases. The Office 365 mobile apps have more features than the free apps, though, so if you're someone who does a lot of work from a mobile device, you'll no doubt want to spring for the subscription.
Overall, if you're someone who loves working across multiple devices, or if you want Office apps installed on several devices for multiple users, Office 365 is the way to go. If you have one PC or Mac and don't plan on expanding anytime, Office 2019 is still an option.
Although Office 365 is subscription-based, after the initial download and install you don't need to be connected to the internet to use the Office apps. You do, however, need to be connected if you want to save files to OneDrive unless you sync your files to your desktop using the OneDrive app. In that case, you can save to OneDrive while offline, and things will sync whenever you next connect to the internet.
There is a hitch: If you don't connect to the internet and sign into Office 365 at least once every 39 days, your apps will be limited to read-only mode, and you may receive warnings that your product is unlicensed.
Office 2019 doesn't require you to connect to the internet at any point following the initial download and install registration, though you'll still have to hop online to download the regularly released security updates.
If you're living without a regular internet connection, Office 2019 is likely the better choice. But if you are connected at all times, Office 365 reigns supreme.
Any technical issues you experience with Office 365 will be handled promptly by Microsoft's support staff. You can also inquire about any subscription and billing issues you run into.
Office 2019 only offers tech support for any initial installation problems you come across, and it is only available for 60 days after purchase. After installing Office 2019, you're basically on your own as far as official tech support goes.
If you love the added safety net of constant tech support, there's only one choice: Office 365. If you can handle things on your own following installation, you'll probably be alright with Office 2019.
Office 365 comes with 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, which, depending on the version you purchased, will be extended to all users. For example, if you purchased Office 365 Personal, you have that 1TB all to yourself. If you purchased Office 365 Home, a separate 1TB is available for up to five users.
Office 2019 does not include any cloud storage. You can get ahold of a 50GB OneDrive plan separately, but it will cost you about $2 a month. A 5GB OneDrive storage plan is free.
If you're keen on cloud storage to hold all your Office documents and whatever else you choose, you have to go with Office 365. The included 1TB of storage can prove invaluable if you saved money on a laptop with a small hard drive. School is expensive, and saving money here and there is more than welcome.
Office 365 is the better option for students
After reviewing the differences between Office 365 and Office 2019, it's clear that Microsoft is pushing users towards Office 365. The included 1TB of OneDrive storage is a great deal and can help a lot with making safe backups of schoolwork, you get access to all Office apps no matter which version you choose, and you receive ongoing updates to ensure you're getting the best Office experience possible. The discounts available for many students only makes the deal that much sweeter and included Skype minutes mean you can call home without worrying about long-distance fees. Unless you're against a subscription model, Office 365 is no doubt the better deal for students.
The best Office solution for students
The inclusion of OneDrive storage, multi-device use, Skype minutes, and tech support on top of access to all Office apps makes Office 365 a true winner for just about anyone, including students. If you're attending university, don't forget to check out special pricing for those who qualify.
Stick with Office 2019 to avoid subscription fees
Microsoft hasn't completely killed the buy-once model, and those of you who absolutely hate subscription fees still have something to be thankful for. It'll cost a lot upfront to get the full suite of apps, but if you're looking to buy Office once and stick with them for a few years, the price doesn't seem as bad.
Fewer features, no yearly or monthly fees
Office 2019 will still get you access to the apps you love, but you will not receive updates in the future and you will not have the added bonus of OneDrive storage. If you despise subscription fees, this is the way to go, though it will not stack up to the complete package that is Office 365.
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Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
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