Office 2021 vs. Microsoft 365: How to Choose

Microsoft Office is how billions of people around the world work and go to school, whether they are at home, in the office, in the classroom, or in combination. This suite of productivity tools is used by people working in 106 languages ​​in almost every country in the world and is available in versions for personal, small business, enterprise and educational use.

But there Is Multiple ways to buy an office – or, rather, to buy License To use it there is a “permanent” version of Office that is available as a one-time purchase; Is the most current version Office 2021. Then there is the subscription version which is in the cloud and for which you pay a monthly or annual fee. When this version was launched in 2011, Microsoft called it Office 365It is being renamed later Microsoft 365 For personal and small business subscriptions. At the enterprise level, both Office 365 and Microsoft 365 plans are available. In this story, we will use “Microsoft 365” as a shorthand for all “365” subscriptions unless we are referring to a specific plan.

Why choose to buy it one way and not the other? The answer can be confusing, especially since most of the tools in each suite have the same application, given or taken.

Microsoft has made its choice clear: the company believes that “the cloud will strengthen the work of the future” and everyone will like it if they buy Microsoft 365. There are plenty of incentives to do this. But you have options.

Here’s how to determine which version is right for you or your company

Microsoft Office: Options

How do you pay for the office

One of the major differences between the “2021” and “365” options is how you pay for them. If you are buying a “permanent license” (as with this) Office Home and Business 2021 Or Office LTSC 2021), You pay a hefty amount more than the subscription offers under the Microsoft 365 or Office 365 brand, but you only do it once. When you subscribe to any Microsoft 365 Or Office 365 Plan, you pay annually or monthly.

Office 2021: A permanent license

Whether you buy a single copy of Office 2021 at a retail outlet or download hundreds of seats via a volume license, Microsoft calls it a “one-time purchase” because you only pay once, not every month. (Labels such as “perpetual” that have been widely used ComputerWorldNote the type of license instead of the technical payment method, but in this case, the type of license is directly linked to the purchase or simply “rented”.)

Microsoft defines the term when “… you pay a single, up-front cost to get an office application for a computer.” Up-front The main adjective there. You already have the entire purchase price before you get the software.

Purchasing a license to run the software legally will give you the right to use that version of Office 2021 forever. In other words, the license does not have an expiration date, and users can run the suite for as long as they want. Pay for Office 2021 this year and use it for the next seven years? Fine. Use it to manage your space portal in 2050? There is nothing to stop you. (Without hardware compatibility. Although you can probably find an older, refurbished computer and drag it into space.)

But if you want new features with the next update, you’ll have to pay the full price again, whatever it is, when the next version comes out – If One comes out. Permanent license packages have no upgrade options.

Microsoft 365: Office as a Service

Microsoft 365, the Purchasing Method Microsoft will choose you, is a subscription service where you pay monthly or yearly to the software giant. There is a discount to go with the monthly plan along with the annual payment plan, sometimes a tempting one. (All enterprise plans from Enterprise E1 to E5 require an annual commitment.) And the company has always sweetened this container by offering more apps than ever before with licensed products and a constant supply of new features.

As with any subscription, Microsoft 365 provides a service – in this case, the right to run the suite’s applications and access the associated services – as long as the payment continues. Stop paying and the right to run apps will expire. This happens in a progressive way, giving you time to download your data or update your payment plan, whichever you choose.

For 30 days of non-payment, your plan will “expire” You will still have access to all your applications and files. If you do not reactivate it while it is in expired state, it will move to “Disabled” where it will remain for 90 days. You will not be able to access your app or data until you have paid. If you still haven’t paid for your plan, it will be “deleted”. At that point, it’s gone.

A Microsoft 365 license, then, is dependent on sustainable payments. Stop the latter, and the license is revoked. Restart the payment to recover the license – but do not wait too long.

How each version of Office is serviced

While Payment Office defines a difference between 2021 and Microsoft 365, the pace of Microsoft’s development and release is ultimately more important to users – and to the IT professionals who support them.

Think of Office 2021 as traditional software – a bundled tool that usually doesn’t change much until the next big version. It is also available for servicing. Releases monthly security and quality updates for the permanent License version of Microsoft Office. (You can check from within any Office app if updates are available. From, say, a Word document, go File> Accounts And search Product information. Then choose Update option And Update now.)

But Office 2021 does not consistently receive the upgraded features and functionality that Microsoft 365 does. When you buy a suit, this is what you get according to the features. If you want updates, at some point in the future, you’ll need to purchase whatever version is sold as a Microsoft Permanent License.

“Although this will not be our last permanent release, we continue to invest in making it easier for customers to adopt Microsoft 365,” the company said in an online commentary on LTSC 2021. We’re glad to confirm our commitment to another release of the Office Permanent Edition in the future, beyond this release. “)

Although Microsoft regularly publishes feature and security updates for the Microsoft 365 app. And it frees them as it happens. As new features and functionality increase and applications are developed on Microsoft 365, Microsoft will decide that it is time for a newer version of Office. It will then package some of those features into an upgraded suite for customers who are continuing one-time, up-front shopping. How long they continue to do this depends on the demand for these “locked in time” versions.

Another important note: Office 2021 and Office LTSC 2021 will only be supported with security updates until October 13, 2026. This is just a five year support, less than seven years in Office 2019 and a release 10 years ago. In contrast, with a Microsoft 365 subscription, support never ends – as long as you keep paying, of course.

How Office is connected to cloud services

One reason for choosing Office 2021 over Microsoft 365 is Internet access. If you do not have reliable access to the cloud, cannot connect to the Internet for security reasons, or – for whatever reason, you may be on a remote hilltop – your computer is often offline, you need this type of software.

Indeed, Internet access is a major factor that Microsoft cannot force all of us to subscribe to Microsoft 365. Microsoft 365 runs on apps downloaded to your computer, phone or tablet, but those apps require near-constant Internet access. , Especially if you use OneDrive and save all your files in the cloud.

In normal use, Microsoft 365 stops working if it cannot connect to the Internet for 30 days. In some cases, it is a contract breaker. But the company is trying to overcome this objection to Microsoft 365 products. Last year, Microsoft introduced features for enterprise users that allowed Microsoft 365 to work without problems even when offline for extended periods of time. An IT administrator needs to set it up, but after that, a user can continue working offline for up to 180 days.

Office 2021, on the other hand, does not rely too much on Internet connection to manage, save files, and self-update. You can attach it if you have access and work offline if you do not have it This, as much as the cost and desire to stick to old-school software distribution models, is probably the most compelling reason to emphasize one of the perpetual licensing products.

No matter which license you choose in the end, you will find many of the same tools And it has less to do with how you or your users work, support and protection requirements, reliability of Internet access, online storage and collaboration requirements, and the reasons you choose another over price and features than how excited (or annoyed) you are. Or your users may be gifted with new features in the software

This article was originally published in July 2017 and was recently updated in June 2022.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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