Microsoft Office could be the de facto productivity tool for millions of workers worldwide, but it’s no monolith. As opposed to a single, towering smooth-black Office, there is a whole Stonehenge of options: Office on the iPhone, on iPad, Office on Android smartphones, Office on pcs, Windows and macOS, Office having a handful of applications, Office with fist-fulls of apps.
However when you get down to it, you will find only 2 kinds of Office. One, labeled Office 2019, is the stand-alone suite that traces its roots back to the last century. Another, Office 365, is the subscription service that debuted in 2011.
The way they differ could be confusing, especially since each includes, more or less, exactly the same applications. Listed here are three ways to inform these tools apart, along with a take a look at what’s coming, according to Microsoft’s new support policies for both Office 2019 and Office 365.
How Office pays for
Difference between Office 2019 and Office 365, purchase plans are some of the most striking.
Office 2019, whether bought one copy at any given time in retail or perhaps in plenty of hundreds via volume licensing, continues to be dubbed a “one-time purchase” by Microsoft to spell out how it’s taken care of. (Labels like “perpetual,” which have been widely used by Computerworld, technically note the type of license rather than payment methodology, but in Office’s case, the type of license is tied to whether or not this was bought outright or simply “rented.”)
Microsoft defines the word as when “…you have to pay just one, up-front cost to get Office applications for just one computer.” Up-front is the key adjective there; Office 2019’s entire purchase price should be organized before finding the software.
That purchase, actually of a license to legally run the software, gives the buyer the right to use Office 2019 in perpetuity. In other words, the license has no expiration date, and users might run the suite as long as they want. Purchase Office 2019 this season and employ it for the following seven years? Fine. Run it until 2030? Absolutely nothing to prevent you.
One-time purchases include Office Standard 2019 and Office Professional Plus 2019 (Windows) and Office Standard 2019 for Mac (macOS), the enterprise-grade SKUs available only via volume licensing; and retail packages such as Office Professional 2019 (Windows) and Office Home & Business 2019 (macOS).
Office 365, the purchase method Microsoft pushes most aggressively, is really a subscription service, so debts are paid monthly or annually. In certain rare instances, annual payments may produce savings in return for a commitment: Office 365 Business Premium, for instance, costs $12.50 per month per user when paid within an annual lump sum ($150 per user), but $15 per month per user on the month-to-month plan ($180).
All enterprise plans – from Enterprise E1 to E5, as well as ProPlus – don’t offer a monthly option but require an annual commitment.
Like every subscription, Office 365 supplies a service – in this case, the authority to run the suite’s applications and access the associated services – only as long as payments continue. Stop paying, and rights to run the apps and services expire. (Actually, they don’t immediately cease working; everything continues to operate normally for Thirty days beyond the previous payment’s due date.)
A license for Office 365, then, is contingent on sustained payments. Halt the second and the license is revoked. Restarting the payments restores the license.
Office 365 plans vary from one for individual consumers (Office 365 Personal) and smaller businesses (Office 365 Business) to educational facilities (Office 365 Education E5) and corporations (Office 365 Enterprise E3). Office 365 is also part of Microsoft 365, an even more expensive subscription. The latter comes with labels resembling the ones from Office 365, including Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3.
How each version of Office is serviced
Although payments define one difference between Office 2019 and Office 365, Microsoft’s turn to a faster development and release pace is ultimately more essential to users – and the IT experts who support them.
Consider Office 2019 as traditional software made traded in traditional ways. That holds for servicing, too. Microsoft provides monthly security updates for Office applications, usually on the second Tuesday of each month, as well as fixes non-security bugs for that first five years from the SKU’s lifecycle.
But Office 2019 doesn’t receive upgrades with new features and functionality. What you’ll get whenever you purchase the suite, feature-wise, is it. If you wish to run a new edition, say, Office 2022 (Microsoft only has said it will do another perpetual version, not too it will be so named), you will have to pay another up-front fee to operate it.
Office 365, on the other hand, has a different servicing model. While the Office applications licensed to users through Office 365 receive the same security patches (and non-security fixes) distributed to Office 2019, they also acquire additional features and functionality on a twice-a-year schedule. Those upgrades are issued first in September and March of each year as “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted), then followed in January and July with “Semi-Annual Channel” releases. This support document explains the update channels of Office 365 ProPlus, the application bundle included in Office 365.
As new features and functionality accrete, the applications evolve until, sooner or later, Microsoft says they are sufficiently different to warrant a new numerical moniker, such as Office 2022 or Office 2025 (when the perpetual version goes on that long). It will then package those versions into a better suite for purchasers who keep one-time, up-front purchases.
How Office hooks up with cloud services
Neither Office 2019 or Office 365 is truly cloud-based, but both of them are able to connect with Microsoft’s cloud services (and also to a very limited extent, some third-party services). Currently, both the applications awarded inside a one-time acquisition of Office 2019 and those installed included in an Office 365 subscription can interact with services such as Microsoft-hosted Exchange, OneDrive storage and Skype for Business.
However, in April 2017 Microsoft announced a major change in the rights of perpetual Office. Office 2019’s applications – acquired through an up-front acquisition of the suite – must be within their “Mainstream” support period, the very first 5 years of the guaranteed lifecycle, for connecting with Microsoft’s cloud services.
“Office 2019 connections to Office 365 services will be supported until October 2023,” Microsoft stated in one support document. (For a while, Microsoft pegged the service cut-off for Office 2016 at October 2020 but within a couple of months it retreated and asserted, like Office 2019, the older suite would connect with Microsoft’s cloud services until October 2023.)
The modification clearly took aim at customers who mixed cloud services with traditional one-time payment software, since it effectively halved the time the latter might be utilized in those organizations. Simultaneously, the post-2023 rule advanced Microsoft’s efforts to push business customers toward subscriptions. The organization was not shy about saying that Office 365 is, ultimately, inevitable.
“Most in our cloud-powered innovation is coming to Office 365 and Microsoft 365. However, we notice that some customers can’t proceed to the cloud in the near term. We want to support all of our customers within their journey towards the cloud, at the pace that makes the most sense for them,” Microsoft said.
Applications from an Office 365 subscription won’t ever possess a connect cutoff date.
How Office will be supported in the future
On Feb. 1, 2018, Microsoft revealed changes in support for Office 2019, even though the “one-time purchase” product hadn’t yet been released. The organization also previewed a shape-shift in support for Office 365, specifically the ProPlus component – the desktop productivity applications – slated to take effect in January 2020.
Microsoft plans to slash support for Office 2019.
“Office 2019 will give you 5 years of mainstream support and approximately 2 years of extended support,” wrote Jared Spataro, the general manager for Office, in a Feb. 1, 2018, post to a company blog. “This is … to align using the support period for Office 2016. Extended support can finish 10/14/2025.” As Spataro implied, Office 2016’s support also will arrived at an end Oct. 14, 2025.
Office 2016 is to buy Ten years of support (five in the “Mainstream” support stretch, five in “Extended”). Office 2019 will get just 7, representing a decrease of 30%. Because Office 2019’s Mainstream support can finish Oct. 10, 2023, that will be the cut-off for connecting Office 2019’s applications to Microsoft’s cloud services (see “How Office hooks up with cloud services” above).
Spataro also dissed perpetual Office more explicitly. “It has become imperative to move our software to some more modern cadence,” he wrote, implying that years of support for one-time payment software was either onerous for Microsoft or put customers at risk (or both).
Combined with the reduction of the support timeline, Microsoft also announced that Office 2019 would be supported only on Windows 10. Despite the fact that Windows 7 has until Jan 14, 2020, before it’s retired, and Windows 8.1 may have over 4 years remaining, Office 2019 won’t be supported on either.
Meanwhile, Microsoft initially vowed to curtail support for Office 365’s ProPlus, too.
A year ago, Microsoft asserted after Jan. 14, 2020, only Windows 10 would be supported for running Office 365 ProPlus; that date is the head-to-assisted-living deadline for Windows 7. Windows 8.1 was also to fall off the ProPlus supported list, as was the Windows 10 LTSC (Long-term Servicing Channel) version.
Again, Microsoft blinked. In September, the organization changed its mind about reducing Windows 8.1’s access to Office 365 ProPlus.
“To support customers already on Office 365 ProPlus through their operating system transitions, we’re … revising some announcements which were made in February,” said Spataro in a Sept. 6, 2018 blog post. “Office 365 ProPlus will still be supported on Windows 8.1 through January 2023, the end-of-support date for Windows 8.1.”_
The no-support rule for Windows 10 LTSC remained in position, however.