What’s the difference between Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365?

Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365 are both Microsoft ‘families’ of services. You’ll most likely be familiar with the more traditional programs such as Word and Excel. These form part of the Office setup. In recent years – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – you may have become more familiar with programs like Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint.

There are many differences between Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365. We’ll quickly explain each software’s unique aspects and benefits on this page. 

For small businesses, churches and charities – especially those with multiple employees or clients utilising a reasonable amount of ICT – Microsoft 365 is often the better option. Here’s why.

What is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 is an online, subscription-based way to access all the applications you know and love, along with many newer additions.

Over the past decade, the world has quickly transitioned to cloud-based data storage and management. Cloud storage brings much-improved accessibility, efficiency, security and disaster recovery compared to traditional ways to hold data like local or plug-in hard drives and email exchanges.

Microsoft 365 is the company’s way of rolling with this change, adding many benefits to the already globally-established Office applications. These include collaboration programs and additions (like Teams), integrated databases and automation options, making life easier for everyone.

Along with the standard Office applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook – you’ll have access to 1TB of cloud storage per user on OneDrive, along with Microsoft Teams, Power Platform, SharePoint, advanced security options, and much more. These depend on the subscription you choose.

You’ll find several different payment options. In essence, the more you pay, the more services, support and security you’ll have access to. In the Microsoft 365 Business range, prices currently range from £4.50 to £16.60 (plus VAT) per user per month.

With the more advanced Microsoft 365 Enterprise plans, check out the E3, E5 and F3, three options specifically designed for businesses of varying sizes and goals. These range from £6.00 to £48.10 per user per month at the moment (again, plus VAT). Microsoft 365 comes with the following benefits:

  • Easy-to-manage subscription service
  • Regular updates and upgrades – no need to buy a new version
  • Access to the specific applications you need
  • Downloadable programs (on most subscription plans)

What is Microsoft Office?

Microsoft Office is a single, one-off purchase, allowing you to download the applications to one computer. You’ll receive Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook in their standard forms. They’re stored locally on the user’s hard drive, and you’ll need to check for updates every month or so. These basic updates are usually simple bug and security patches.

At the time of writing, Microsoft charges £249.99 for a one-time download to one Mac or PC. That’s for the latest Office Home & Business version, specifically. 

The key benefits of Microsoft Office are:

  • One-off payment
  • No internet connection is required (aside from using Outlook)

Unfortunately, while you’ll be able to access updates for Office 2021, the purchase doesn’t include an automatic upgrade when the next edition comes out, which tends to be every two or three years.

As a side note, in October 2023, Microsoft will stop support for Office 2016 and Office 2019. By October 2025, all security updates will also stop, making an upgrade or a transition to Microsoft 365 crucial for a business’s cybersecurity.

Why is Microsoft 365 better for businesses?

Every business needs to use ICT to some extent these days, whether it’s for internet banking, invoicing, communicating with customers or collaborating on new company policies. So, deciding between Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365 is an important step. In general, Microsoft 365 provides SMEs with more useful tools and resources for a similar cost, making it the preferred option in most cases.

Although a subscription service might sound off-putting, it makes managing your staff much easier and more cost-effective. For example, buying a whole Office 2021 package for a new staff member is a significant investment. If they leave after a few months, that’s money down the drain. Even if they stay on, you’ll need to upgrade the system within a few years. In contrast, Microsoft 365 allows you to easily add or remove users at will, cutting off any problems before they develop.

The most significant benefit to businesses is the collaboration aspects of Microsoft 365. Working together on a Word document stored in a cloud folder drastically cuts the time it takes to transfer files, make edits, and produce the final version. Applications like Teams can be used to quickly inform your staff of updates, new policies or just to check in with them.

All these come included in the same package as the standard Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook programs. If you chose Office 2021 instead, you’d have to separately subscribe to the individual applications (which is possible) at an extra cost – so it works out more expensive anyway.

Vantage 365 and Microsoft 365

Vantage 365 is a Microsoft 365 specialist consultancy. We help small organisations develop efficient ICT systems, with services including tailored development, training and network automation. It’s certainly true that we’re all being pushed towards cloud-based subscription services, but that’s not a bad thing – it’s simply the natural progression of improving technology.

At Vantage 365, we’re passionate about helping your business or organisation understand the many benefits that Microsoft 365 could bring. To learn more about your options, why not get in touch with us for a commitment-free friendly chat. We’ll be delighted to walk you through the different applications and plans and how your business could streamline its processes, saving valuable time.

Get in touch with us on 01384 593720 or email hello@vantage365.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you.

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