Microsoft lampoons Office 2019 in PR pitch for Office 365

Microsoft this week took the strange step of slamming its very own software, portraying Office 2019 as second-class when pitted against Office 365.

What Microsoft neglected to say was that Office 2019’s inferiority comes from decisions the company itself has made about how exactly the suite’s applications are made and serviced.

In a pr pitch dubbed “The Twins Challenge,” Microsoft set three pairs of Millennial-aged identical twins against one another. One twin ran an Office 2019 application, the other ran the same-named desktop app from within an Office 365 subscription. Each was inspired to complete the same task, using the first finisher given the win.

Unsurprisingly, the twin running the Office 365 version of Excel, PowerPoint or Word easily won the competition, wrapping up so quickly that their doppelgänger spat lines like, “No way” or “You’re already done?”

Microsoft didn’t pretend it had been a fair fight.

“While they’ve similar names, there is a realm of distinction between ((Office 2019 and Office 365)),” Jared Spataro, a professional in the firm’s Office and Windows group, said in a post to a company blog. “Office 365 includes fully installed Office applications … which apps keep improving with time, with new capabilities delivered every month.”

Meanwhile, Spataro continued, Office 2019’s applications are “frozen in time” because “they do not ever get updated with new features.”


That’s Microsoft’s doing. In the past, Office – the one-time-purchase version that comes with a perpetual license – wasn’t deliberately crippled like this. Microsoft would occasionally issue a service pack, labeled SP1, SP2 and so on, that would generate a small group of recent features and functionalities. Office 2013 was the final suite to obtain the service pack treatment, while Office 2010 was the most recent to get more than one.

Office 2016 did not refresh having a service pack; nor will Office 2019. Instead, Microsoft deliberately did the “freezing” that Spataro mentioned by declining to update, upgrade or refresh the applications in either suite. The perpetual license – meaning that once paid for, you can use it in perpetuity – is now serviced only with bug fixes.

Office 365 ProPlus – the subscription component made up of desktop applications like Word, Outlook and Excel – is totally different. Microsoft continuously updates those applications with additional features and functionality; enterprises can choose to receive the upgrades monthly (or at least most months) or twice each year. (Customers also receive a number of batches of bug fixes each month.)

Microsoft decided what’s in Office 2019

The twin tasked to tackle resume-centric chores with Word from Office 2019, soundly beaten 3 times by his brother, complained “That’s not fair.”

No kidding.

Microsoft stacked the deck, not only in the trio of rigged head-to-heads but also if this came to the same-named applications from Office 2019 and Office 365 ProPlus. It always favors the latter.

Word, Outlook, Excel and the other applications in Office 2019 may share names with the desktop apps in Office 365 ProPlus, but the pairs are not identical, unlike the twins who starred in Microsoft’s public relations shorts.

To put it simply, the features from the Office 2019 applications are a subset of what’s in the Office 365 ProPlus apps. That is because of the way Microsoft builds perpetual Office.

As new Office 365 ProPlus features and functionality accrete, those applications evolve until, at some point – usually about three years from the previous perpetual Office – Microsoft says they’re sufficiently different to warrant a new release. Microsoft then packages those versions into an upgraded suite for customers who keep one-time, up-front purchases.

Even though the perpetual licensed Office 2019 was constructed from code already released as Office 365 ProPlus, there wasn’t any be certain that all the latter managed to get into the former. (Spoiler: It didn’t.) Microsoft decided which ProPlus features managed to get into Office 2019. The tools featured in “The Twins Challenge,” those which gave the ProPlus users huge advantages, clearly didn’t.

In that way, the challenge was more demonstration than realistic test, or if the second, one in which the fix was in.
Strut your stuff, sure…but whack what you made? That’s weird

Spataro’s blog post used the headline, “Office 365 crushes Office 2019.” Microsoft trumpets its products all the time – that is what all companies do – and has even trashed aged OSes in the past. In early 2017, for example, Microsoft denounced Windows 7 as “long outdated,” even though it had three years of support still coming, and urged customers to steer for Windows 10 instead. Before that, Microsoft slammed Windows XP as it neared retirement and panned Windows 7 after Windows 8 started to ship.

But to bash a brand new title? That’s unusual.

“Office 365 can save you time and make work easy,” Spataro contended. “I think the results speak on their own.”

Microsoft’s purpose for taking this approach is transparent: To maneuver customers from perpetual licenses to subscriptions. That effort continues to be ongoing and unrelenting, and longest for Office. Some of the changes Microsoft has made to diminish perpetual licensing and portray subscriptions as more appealing in contrast have been unprecedented, including shortening the support for Office 2019 and restricting it to Windows 10, despite the fact that other operating-system editions have enough time left on the clock.

The composition of perpetual Office has also played many within the diminishing of one-time purchases. Not just is Office 2019 a subset of the present Office 365 ProPlus but it is seriously behind the days. PowerPoint Designer, the tool that allow one twin beat the other in the slide maker head-on, was put into ProPlus in 2015. Resume Assistant, another crucial component in ProPlus that allow its user pummel his twin brother, debuted in February 2018, over fifty percent annually before Office 2019’s launch.

Office 2019, then, is outdated and outmoded in comparison with Office 365 ProPlus, says Microsoft. And that’s Microsoft’s doing. Like among the twins said, “That’s not fair.” No, it’s not. But it is in Microsoft’s interest.

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