Microsoft Office is one of the world's most widely used productivity suites, and it's been essential for businesses, students, and families for over 30 years. With its numerous applications that cover almost every need imaginable, from word processing to spreadsheets to presentation slideshows, Microsoft Office is a comprehensive suite of tools for anyone who needs to get their work done. But with so many options, it can take time to decide which version of Microsoft Office is the best for your needs.
In this article, we'll look at the different versions of Microsoft Office, including annual licenses and one-time purchase options. We'll also compare the most recent 2021 & 2019 versions to give you an idea of what features each offers and which version would work best for businesses, students, or families.
Difference between Version and Edition
When considering which version of Microsoft Office to purchase, the first thing to understand is the difference between version and edition. A version refers to a major release, such as Office 2016 or 2019. An edition varies within that version, such as Home & Student Edition or Professional Plus. Editions are named differently and include different products and features for specific audiences.
For example, Home & Student Edition includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote suitable for home and educational use. On the other hand, Office Professional Plus has Office Suite tools like Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Word, and Access for professional use.
Microsoft Office 2021 Edition
Microsoft Office 2021 is the latest version of Office and comes in two main variants for Windows and Mac versions: Home & Business and Home & Student. Both versions serve the core needs of users, with the main difference being the licensing type – Home and Business is sold for commercial use, while Home and Student is for personal use.
Office Home Business 2021 contains these programs for Windows and Office for Mac:
- Word: The word processing application used for creating documents and reports
- Excel: A spreadsheet program used to analyze data and create graphs
- PowerPoint: An application for creating presentations
- OneNote: An organizational tool used for taking notes and organizing information
- Outlook: A personal information management program for managing emails, contacts, and schedules
- Publisher: An app publisher to create leaflets, newsletters, posters, etc.
- Access: A database application to store data and analyze it with queries
Home & Student 2021 does not include the Outlook app.
Feature Updates in Microsoft Office 2021
- Microsoft Office 2021 Visual Refresh: A brand new look and feel for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Publisher, Visio, OneNote, and Project
- Co-authoring and Collaborators in Real-time: Work together in real-time with improved collaboration across Office applications
- AutoSave Every Change: Automatically save your work every few minutes to avoid the loss
- Switch to Dark Mode: Reduces glare and can help you focus better
- Read Aloud for Proofreading
- Free Stock Media Library: Find the perfect image for any project without purchasing additional licenses or using unlicensed stock photos
- Go Global with Outlook's Built-In Translator: Understand emails written in different languages
Microsoft Office 2019 Edition
Microsoft Office 2019 is the predecessor to the 2021 version and provides many of the same features. It has four major versions for Windows and two for Mac OS: Home & Student, Home & Business, Professional, and Professional Plus.
- Microsoft Office 2019 Home and Student: includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote for home use. It's perfect for school use by students and teachers, home use, and even writers.
- Microsoft Office 2019 Home & Business includes all the above plus Outlook for small business use. Office 2019 gives a great balance between the home and professional business editions of Office.
- Microsoft Office 2019 Professional includes all of the above plus Publisher and Access. It's ideal for large businesses and corporations. Access is used for database management, and Publisher helps create marketing materials.
- Microsoft Office 2019 Professional Plus includes all of the above, along with Skype for Business and Exchange. Professional Plus is suitable for business-critical applications.
Microsoft Office 2019 Features
- Break the language barrier
- Edit PDF files in any version of Word
- LaTeX equation support
- Add motion with Morph
- Use the digital pen on Microsoft Surface
- Visualize your data with new charts
- Task progress at a glance
- One-click fixes for accessibility issues
- Helpful sounds improve accessibility
Microsoft Office 2019 also includes an enhanced search feature, allowing users to quickly find relevant information stored.
Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription-based version of Microsoft Office that gives access to any web-based and desktop Office apps and other services like enterprise-level security, email and online storage, Teams, Intune, Exchange, and SharePoint.
The cloud service is a great option for families, students, and businesses requiring regular Office applications access. It is compatible with Windows 8.1, 10, 11, and macOS and offers continuous updates at a low cost of ownership. On the other hand, Office 2021 only supports Windows 10 or 11 operating systems and needs you to pay again for future upgrades.
Microsoft Office 365 plans come in two offerings: Microsoft 365 Family and Microsoft 365 Personal plan.
- Microsoft 365 Family: Suitable when sharing subscriptions with family or friends. It costs $10 per month or $100 per year and allows sharing benefits with up to six users. Moreover, every user gets 1TB of OneDrive storage and can access the services on up to five devices concurrently.
- Microsoft 365 Personal plan: Suitable for personal use and costs $7 per month or $70 per year. It provides access to all applications and 1TB of OneDrive storage.
The advantage of a Microsoft 365 subscription is that you never have to worry about upgrades again. Once you install it, you'll always have the latest version. That's because the apps automatically receive new features, improvements, maintenance, and security updates throughout the subscription lifetime. Office 2019 and 2021 are one-time purchase options and do not receive updates or new features after they are released.
Microsoft 365 features and additional services:
- Microsoft Family Safety experience to monitor driving behavior, track app usage, screen time, etc.
- Microsoft Editor to check grammar and AI creative tools
- PowerPoint Presenter Coach to help you learn to present
- Designer for creating quality slide presentations
- Resume Assistant to help you write the best resumes
- Creative content like stock photos, premium templates, fonts, and icons for different uses
- The premium version of Outlook online comes with message encryption, enhanced security, no ads, and 50GB of storage
- Special offers from many Microsoft partners as a subscriber
- Real-time collaboration across multiple devices, including computers, mobile devices, etc.
Whether Microsoft 365 or Office 2019/2021 is the best option depends on your needs and budget. Microsoft 365 may be a good option for individuals or businesses needing the latest Office app version and additional online services.
At the same time, Office 2019/2021 is a good option for those who do not need these additional features and are looking for a one-time purchase. But there's also Office Online for those looking for a free version of office apps. If you still need to decide which one to work with, MyChoiceSoftware offers easy comparison charts for your shopping convenience.