MS Office vs Microsoft 365 Apps

MS Office vs Microsoft 365 Apps
Category: Software

Comparing Microsoft Office Perpetual Licence and Microsoft 365 Apps Subscription

1. Understanding the Key Differences Between MS Office and Microsoft 365 Apps

In the realm of productivity software, Microsoft Office has long been a cornerstone. With the advent of Microsoft 365, many users are now considering the benefits of a traditional Microsoft Office perpetual licence versus a Microsoft 365 apps subscription. Each has its unique advantages and potential drawbacks, so let’s explore these differences in detail.

2. What is a Microsoft Office Perpetual Licence?

A perpetual licence means you pay a one-time fee to purchase the software, which you then own outright. Here are some key points:

  • Cost: You pay once and own the software indefinitely. This can be cost-effective if you plan to use the software for several years.
  • Updates: You receive security updates and bug fixes for the lifetime of that version, but you don’t get new features or major upgrades. When a new version is released, you’ll need to purchase it separately.
  • Features: You have access to the features available at the time of purchase. The software does not evolve with new functionalities over time.
  • Installation: You can typically install the software on one computer, although some licences may allow more installations.
  • Internet Connection: You do not need an internet connection to use the software, making it ideal for environments with limited or no internet access.

3. What is a Microsoft 365 Apps Subscription?

There are a number of Microsoft 365 subscriptions that provide continuous access to Microsoft Office desktop apps and other services. Here’s a closer look:

  • Cost: You pay a monthly or annual subscription fee. This can be beneficial if you prefer spreading the cost over time rather than a large upfront payment.
  • Updates: You receive regular updates, including new features, enhancements, and major upgrades. The software is always up-to-date.
  • Features: Subscribers get access to the latest features as soon as they are released. This includes cloud-based features and integrations not available in the perpetual licence version.
  • Installation: Depending on the subscription plan, you can install Office apps on multiple devices (PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones) – usually up to five devices.
  • Internet Connection: While you need an internet connection to download and activate the software, you can use the apps offline. However, some features, particularly those integrated with cloud services, require an internet connection.
  • Additional Services: Microsoft 365 includes cloud storage with OneDrive, access to other Microsoft services like Teams, and enhanced collaboration tools.

    4. Microsoft Office Versions and Support Dates

    Understanding the lifecycle of different Microsoft Office versions can help you make an informed decision about which product best suits your needs. Here’s a table summarising the release dates, mainstream support end dates, and extended support end dates for various Microsoft Office versions:

    VersionRelease DateMainstream Support EndExtended Support End
    Office 2024Q3/Q4 20242029TBA
    Office 202105-Oct-202113-Oct-202613-Oct-2031
    Office 201924-Sep-201810-Oct-202314-Oct-2025
    Office 201622-Sep-201513-Oct-202014-Oct-2025
    Office 201329-Jan-201310-Apr-201811-Apr-2023
    Office 201015-Jun-201013-Oct-201513-Oct-2020
    Office 200730-Jan-200710-Oct-201210-Oct-2017
    Office 200321-Oct-200314-Apr-200908-Apr-2014
    Office XP31-May-200112-Jul-200611-Jul-2011
    Office 200007-Jun-199930-Jun-200414-Jul-2009
    Office 9719-Nov-199628-Feb-2002N/A

    This table highlights the support lifecycle for each version, indicating when mainstream support ends (no new features or non-security updates) and when extended support ends (no updates, including security updates). Note that despite being released three years apart, both Office 2016 and Office 2019 extended support ends on the same day – 14th October 2025.

    5. The Impact of AI on Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365

    The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) is significantly transforming the landscape of productivity software, particularly within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Here’s how AI is making a difference:

    • Enhanced Productivity: AI-driven features like Microsoft Editor in Word and Outlook provide advanced grammar and style suggestions, helping users write more effectively. AI can also automate routine tasks, such as sorting emails or scheduling meetings, saving valuable time.
    • Data Analysis: Tools like Excel have integrated AI capabilities that can automatically detect patterns, suggest insights, and even build complex data models. The Ideas feature in Excel uses AI to highlight trends and anomalies, making data analysis more accessible to everyone.
    • Collaboration and Communication: AI enhances collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams by providing real-time translation, transcription, and smart meeting summaries. These features facilitate smoother communication across global teams.
    • Security: AI plays a critical role in enhancing security within Microsoft 365. It helps in identifying and mitigating potential threats by analysing vast amounts of data and detecting unusual activity patterns.
    • Accessibility: AI-driven features improve accessibility for all users. For instance, Microsoft’s AI-powered accessibility checker ensures that documents are inclusive and usable by individuals with disabilities.
    • Innovation: Continuous AI advancements lead to the development of new features and tools. For example, PowerPoint Designer uses AI to suggest design ideas, and Outlook’s Focused Inbox uses AI to prioritise important emails.

    It’s important to note that the AI-powered features described above are predominantly available in the Microsoft 365 apps subscription and not in the perpetual licence versions of Microsoft Office. Perpetual licence versions, such as Office 2021, receive only security updates and bug fixes but do not benefit from the continuous AI-driven enhancements and new feature rollouts that Microsoft 365 subscribers receive.

    6. Detailed Comparison

    FeatureMicrosoft Office Perpetual LicenceMicrosoft 365 Apps Subscription
    Payment ModelOne-time purchaseMonthly/annual subscription
    Software UpdatesSecurity updates onlyContinuous updates, new features, major upgrades
    Cost Over TimeHigher initial cost, no ongoing feesLower initial cost, ongoing subscription fees
    Number of DevicesTypically one, may varyMultiple devices (varies by plan – usually up to five)
    Internet RequirementNot required for useRequired for initial setup and certain features
    Cloud ServicesNot includedIncludes OneDrive and other cloud services
    Collaboration ToolsLimitedAdvanced collaboration tools (Teams, SharePoint)

    7. Which One Should You Choose?

    Microsoft Office Perpetual Licence might be the right choice if:

    • You prefer a one-time purchase without recurring fees.
    • You don’t need the latest features and are satisfied with a stable set of tools.
    • You have limited or no internet access.

    Microsoft 365 Apps Subscription might be better if:

    • You prefer always having the latest features and updates.
    • You use multiple devices and need the flexibility to work across them.
    • You benefit from additional services like cloud storage and collaboration tools.
    • You are comfortable with a subscription model and spreading the cost over time.

    8. Final Thoughts on Microsoft Office Apps

    The choice between a Microsoft Office perpetual licence and a Microsoft 365 apps subscription hinges on your specific needs, including budget, feature requirements, and flexibility. While perpetual licences offer a stable set of tools without recurring costs, they lack the dynamic, AI-powered enhancements that come with a Microsoft 365 subscription. Leveraging AI advancements in Microsoft 365 can significantly boost productivity, enhance collaboration, and improve overall efficiency, making it a compelling choice for many users.