You can still pick between Microsoft Office (desktop) and Microsoft 365 (web version).

While both offer the same programs that Office users are accustomed to, the upfront costs and platforms they’re used on vary.

Microsoft Office (Desktop)

Microsoft Office (desktop) can be purchased for a one-time payment for the program to be installed on a single device.

You are either given a physical key card with your own specific download code, or you can download the program straight from the Microsoft website.

This key gives you access to the program for as long as you like. In the event of a Microsoft upgrade or a new version of Microsoft Office, you would then have to purchase the new package if you want to receive support.

Standard Office bundles come with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Microsoft Office programs must be purchased for the user’s operating system (OS) – either a Mac or PC.

If the user gets a new computer, or switches to a different OS, they’ll have to repurchase Office.

Microsoft 365 (Online Subscription)

Microsoft 365 is a subscription product, which you can pay for monthly or annually. As noted above, this product was formerly known as “Office 365” until it was rebranded in April 2020.

Program upgrades are included with this fee, so whenever Microsoft updates its Office apps, you will automatically receive the newest versions.

Because 365 is cloud-based, it can be accessed via any device. This technology allows flexibility for businesses and their employees, as documents and programs aren’t simply tethered to the computer to which the program is licensed.

Microsoft 365 Personal subscriptions can be used on up to five devices across Mac and PC, and it includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. Subscribers also receive additional OneDrive storage (1 TB) and 60 free Skype minutes every month.

Microsoft 365 Family subscriptions can be shared by 6 people in total. It includes all of the features of the Personal plan, plus additional OneDrive storage (6 TB).

Microsoft 365 Business plans include Office apps, plus additional features like access to Microsoft Teams and advanced security protections.

Microsoft introduced 365 with the goal of eventually phasing out one-time purchases.

If you don’t frequently update Office, its traditional product should work just fine. But, if you’re interested in getting access to exclusive upgrades, 365 will float your boat.

Regardless, keep in mind that Microsoft made it clear it will phase out the traditional Office Suite in the not-so-distant future.

Tomasz David
Tomasz David

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