Microsoft just announced the availability of Office 2019 to volume licensing customers, promising general retail availability in the coming weeks. Unless a consumer is a business customer looking to upgrade and he/she is not ready to move the Office life to the cloud, this probably will not really matter. As reported by The Verge, the release will be made available to both Windows and Mac users.
So what exactly is Office 2019? What does it bring to the table?
Office 2019 is the stand-alone, perpetual license version of Office. It is just like Office was in the days before the subscription-based Office 365 was in play. Users make a one-time purchase, and they get to keep on using it as long as the want— on either PC or Mac. The consumer version, Office Home & Business 2019, is not available yet, but Microsoft has announced the price which is $249.
That sounds okay. Why not avoid a subscription fee for Office 365 and buy a perpetual license? Well, there are a few reasons.
The Microsoft’s Office 2019 landing page starts right off with equivocating language: “For customers who aren’t ready for the cloud.” It seems to be partly straight talk and partly subtle dark pattern manipulation. Microsoft clearly designed Office 2019 as a stop gap for companies that are not ready to move to a subscription-based model. Fair enough, but it also starts digging at users a little bit and making it clear that they are missing out if they are not going with Office 365.
Scroll down a bit past two whole feature points (“create with ease” and “simplify your work”), and users will even be introduced to features that only Office 365 offers. Again, it is partly straight talk and partly subtle dark pattern.
The truth is that back in May, Microsoft decided to freeze the code for Office 365—a continually updated subscription version of Office—and issue that as Office 2019. It does not even have all the features that Office 356 has right now, just a subset of those features.
It is pretty clear that going forward, Microsoft is considering Office 365 the real version and Office 2019 pretty much an afterthought required for customers that have resisted the subscription model.
Yes, it might sound like a pain to pay yet another subscription fee, but believe it or not, it is a pretty great deal.
Take the Office 365 Home subscription, for example. It runs $99 per year, and this is what users get with it:
- Six different users can install the full desktop version of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, and so on) on however many devices they want. The only restriction is that each person can only use Office on one of their devices at a time—not a big deal. They also get access to the mobile and online apps.
- Each of those six users gets a full terabyte of OneDrive space all to themselves.
Honestly, it is hard to find that good a deal just on that much storage space, let alone access to the Office apps. And if users will do the math, they will know that they could get five or six people who need access to Office on some different PCs. That is basically over $1,000 for Office 2019 licenses (a bit less if some of them qualify for the education edition). That is a solid ten years of Office 365 subscription goodness.
As far as how Office 365 compares to Office 2019, the latter is a buy it once. From there, users will only be done until they buy another version deal. They will get security updates, but no big feature updates. Office 365, on the other hand, gets updated regularly with new features.
It is also worth noting that Office 2019 will only run on Windows 10 and on whatever are the three most recent versions of macOS. Yes, the macOS requirement shifts for some reason. According to Microsoft: “When a new version of macOS is released, the Office 2019 for Mac Operating System requirement becomes the then-current three most recent versions: the new version of macOS and the previous versions.”
Office 365, on the other hand, currently works with Windows 7, 8, and 10, but also uses that three-version shifting scheme for macOS.