Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook are some of the most commonly used apps worldwide. Over the last few years, Microsoft has packaged these apps differently to appeal to different customer segments and to take on competition from Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite) and other apps. This has led to the emergence of two products: the newer, cloud-based Microsoft 365 and the traditional Microsoft Office software, now in its current Office 2019 version. So, let’s see what these two products are, how they differ, and which of the two you should choose.
Microsoft 365 vs. Office 2019: What are they?
Fundamentally, the way these two products are offered is the key difference.
Microsoft 365 is an online cloud-based subscription service where you pay a certain amount monthly to access apps like Word and Excel. Office 2019, on the other hand, is physical software, which means you make a one-time payment and buy that product.
Both these options come with their set of features, such as the allowable number of devices, availability of updates, and more. But there aren’t many differences in the look and feel of the apps. So, regardless of whether you use Microsoft 365 or Office 2019, your Word or PowerPoint is going to look the same, so there’s no learning curve. Of course, you’d need the Internet to access Microsoft 365 for many uses since it’s an online service.
Moving on, let’s see how the two products stack up against each other.
Microsoft 365 vs. Office 2019: How they differ
Before we head to the comparison table, let’s briefly look at the pros and cons of each.
Microsoft 365 pros
The advantages of Microsoft 365 are:
- A single license can be used across six people/devices
- Free upgrades and continual updates
- Supports Windows 10,8,7, and macOS
- Access to all apps
- Good customer support
- Free Microsoft Teams
Microsoft 365 cons
The downsides of Microsoft 365 are:
- The yearly/monthly payments are a hassle
- You may not need or use all the apps and features
- Changes are rapid with every release
- Service downtimes impact productivity
- Limited VBA macro functionality for Word and Excel
Office 2019 pros
The pros of Office 2019 are:
- One-time payment
- Pay only for what you want
- No overwhelming changes
- Supports Windows 10 and macOS
- Robust macro creation and functionality with Microsoft Visual Basic
Office 2019 cons
The cons of Office 2019 are:
- One license can be used on only one device
- Upgrades are costly
- No customer support
- No backward compatibility with older versions of Windows
Moving on to the comparison, Microsoft 365 is a web service through which you access all the apps offered by Microsoft that go beyond just Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. For many, access organizations, access to Microsoft Teams is a key selling point. The updates happen automatically, so you can access new features as they are released. Also, it involves no downloads or disk space and can be accessed from anywhere. All you need is a browser and Internet connectivity.
At the same time, it’s expensive, and the costs are recurring. Many times, you may not use all the apps offered by Microsoft 365; still, you end up paying for the entire suite. That could be a big disadvantage, especially if you plan to use only a few basic apps like Word and Excel. Also, the updates can be overwhelming at times.
As for Office 2019, it’s a one-time payment, but if you want to upgrade to the next version, you’ll have to pay the full price of the next version again. There are no updates to features (although you will get security updates), and you can install it on only one device. It entails additional disk space and no flexibility to work from anywhere unless, of course, you carry the device on which it is installed. If you are in an office setting and have many users, each will have to have their own license for the physical software.
The differences are summarized in the table below.
|Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype, OneNote, Publisher, OneDrive, Access, and Outlook
|Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
|Number of devices/persons per license
|Upgrades to new features
|Have to buy the next version at the full price
|Impact due to Microsoft or Internet downtime
|Takes up disk space on PC
|Supported operating systems
|Windows 10,8, 7, and macOS
|Windows 10 and macOS
|Microsoft editor, Resume Assistant, Designer, PowerPoint Presenter Coach, AI-based tools, collaboration apps, and more
|None. You have to buy the apps you want by paying extra. The license provides only Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
|1TB storage space comes with the subscription
|Have to buy separately
|60 minutes free each month
|Download separately and pay extra
Microsoft 365 vs. Office 2019: Which is better?
One option is not necessarily better than the other, hence it depends on your circumstances and needs.
Ask yourself two questions:
- What apps do you need?
- How many hours a month do you plan to use Office?
Now, if you plan to use only Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Office 2019 is significantly cheaper for you. The same applies when you don’t plan to use these apps regularly, and even when you do, it’s from a single device only.
But on the other hand, if you plan to use all the productivity apps and want to use them across devices, Microsoft 365 is a good choice. The bonus is the features are upgraded automatically, so you can access new ones as they are released without paying extra. Again, all of these help only if you use Microsoft Office extensively.
Some other pertinent questions are:
- Is Office going to be used by several users in a business or by several family members?
- Do you need to work on a mobile device or tablet?
- Do you need additional apps like Publisher or Microsoft Teams?
If you answered yes to one or more questions, go with Microsoft 365. On the other hand, if you answered “no” to all these questions, Office 2019 is your best option.
Finally, be aware that Microsoft is trying to push more people toward subscription-based Microsoft 365. That’s why it has announced that it will be providing mainstream support for Office 2019 for only five years and extended support for two years, so the support ends on Oct. 14, 2025.
This is significant because Microsoft supported Office 2016 for 10 years but plans to support Office 2019 only for seven years, a 30 percent decrease. Though Microsoft plans to launch Office 2022 in the future, it is not known how long it will get support and what the features would be.
In all, there are clear signs that Microsoft is encouraging its customers to go for the subscription-based Microsoft 365. It remains to be seen how the future will play out.
Until then, what’s your preference and why?
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