Hopefully I’m not too late with my advice. Hopefully nobody has yet bought Microsoft Office 2019. So why am I recommending that you don’t buy it?
Before I explain, if you already understand Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription model, then just read the next 3 paragraphs. If you don’t know the difference between Office 365 and Office 2019, you’ll probably find this entire blog post useful…
Excel 2019 is a point-in-time snapshot of the features and functionality of Excel. That point-in-time snapshot was taken in March 2018.
Any functionality that Microsoft has added to Excel (and the other applications in Office) since March 2018 will not be available to Office 2019 users. It will only be available to those with an Office 365 subscription.
In other words, when Microsoft released Office 2019 in September 2018, it was already 6 months out of date. Today it is almost A YEAR out of date.
Traditionally Microsoft have released a new version of Office every 3 years, the most recent versions being 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019. These versions were either released in those years or late the previous year.
Individuals and organisations can choose to buy the new version or remain on the old version. If you choose to buy the new version you will, of course have to pay (MS Office is not freeware) although if you have a licence for an older version, you are entitled to a cheaper “upgrade licence”.
Although Microsoft still offer that purchasing model, things changed in 2011 with the introduction of Office 365.
Office 365 is a subscription service from Microsoft. When it comes to the cost and what you get for your money, it get depends on which Office 365 package you buy. There are packages for home users, students and businesses. You can check out the latest prices here
Depending where you buy it from, a single copy of Office 2019 will cost you around $250. However, this is a one-off payment. You won’t have to pay again until you decide to upgrade to the next version in say, 2022. That works out at approximately $83 a year and if you choose not to upgrade until Excel 2025 comes out you can cut that cost in half.
For your $250 you get 1 licence which means that you can only install Microsoft Office on a single computer. You do not get access to OneDrive (Microsoft’s Cloud-based storage service) nor to Office Online (the browser-based versions of Office).
Compare that to Office 365 Home or Office 365 Business which costs about $100 a year. That figure that won’t change unless Microsoft change the price. You can’t halve the cost by “not upgrading” because, just like any other subscription (e.g. Netflix), once you stop paying you lose any entitlement to use it.
Although at face value it’s a higher cost per year, you do get more for your money: 6 licences for the latest desktop version of Microsoft Office (PC and Mac), 1TB of file storage on OneDrive, access to Office Online and more.
For me, the biggest benefit of an Office 365 subscription is the regular updates. That is the carrot that Microsoft dangles in front of you to persuade you to purchase a subscription rather than a one-off.
Each month Microsoft release a new “version” of the Office apps. The versions have numbers in the format of YYMM (e.g 1901 for January 2019). Each time a new version becomes available, you are prompted to download and install it.
Sometimes the new version contains bug fixes, but often it contains really useful and valuable new features. A few recent examples include:
- New functions such as TEXTJOIN and CONCAT
- New data types (stocks and geography)
- New types of charts
- The ability to deselect cells using CTRL
- An updated look and feel to The Ribbon
So to wrap up, when asked whether an Office 365 subscription is worth it, my answer is usually “Yes” although of course your circumstances may dictate otherwise.