You’re probably used to buying a copy of Microsoft Office and keeping it for several years until it’s so out of date that it loses compatibility with your PC or other software. Then, you’re forced to plunk down another large chunk of change ($250 or more) to upgrade to the newest version of Office, only to repeat the cycle again in another 3-5 years.
With Microsoft 365, (formerly called Office 365), you pay a low monthly fee and the new versions are installed automatically for as long as you subscribe. This means you’re getting the latest features in popular apps like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint along with access to an online file storage option called OneDrive and Microsoft-hosted business email.
It can be tempting to pony up for the stand-alone copy of Microsoft Office and avoid the ongoing fee Microsoft 365, but as we’ll explain below, Microsoft 365 is a better value for most businesses.
Microsoft 365 Business Email Hosting
Email communication is the lifeblood of most businesses. Having a reliable, low maintenance system is vital.
With Microsoft 365, setting up your business email is much simpler, more reliable, and less costly than having an in-house email server like Exchange, or using the email hosting that comes with your website.
Microsoft 365 also has extremely effective security and spam filtering capabilities built-in.
Microsoft 365 Apps vs Office 2019 Apps
Comparing Microsoft 365 and Office 2019 programs such as Word and Excel comes down to a few primary differences:
- Collaboration – Microsoft 365 applications allow your team to work on one document at the same time whereas the “classic” apps that come with Office for Home & Business 2019 do not share this feature. This is because your documents are kept on your PC (instead of the cloud) and can’t be edited on the cloud in the same way.
- Web Browser Applications – The most significant difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2019 is the ability to edit your files from any computer with an internet connection. With Microsoft 365, as long as you have a computer that can get online, you can login to Microsoft 365 and edit your documents and access your email.
- Updates and New Versions – Microsoft 365 apps enjoy quarterly feature updates and fixes. Their roadmap lists 304 updates launched, 119 rolling out, and 236 in development. These updates have included things like more powerful Excel functions and a Safe Documents feature. With Office 2019, you’ll get some ongoing security and bug updates, but to get the latest and greatest software, you’ll need to upgrade. Microsoft will also end updates and support for stand-alone versions of Office over time.
- Support – Microsoft 365 provides ongoing support for the life of your subscription, where Office 2019 only includes support for 6 months. After that, a support call will cost $29.
If you’re like most businesses, the aspect you care most about is price. What will it cost to own each over the same period of time? It’s really important to think of the cost across your whole team rather than one single license.
Microsoft Office Home and Business 2019:
- $250 per license
- $2500 for 10 licenses
- Most businesses will keep this copy for 3 years
- $5-12.50/month, or $60-150/year per license
- $600-$1500/year for 10 licenses
- $1800 to $4500 for 3 years
- 3 tiers of pricing depending on the features needed
Working Away From the Office
Online Office apps are another perk of Microsoft 365. If you’re working from home, you may not have the Office apps available on your computer. As long as your files are saved in the cloud, you can still access them and edit them with Office Online apps.
They are slightly simplified versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint you use in your internet browser. Only advanced users will notice any functionality missing. Once you’re back in the office, your at-home edits will be updated in your files and you can continue working on them.
You Should Opt for Microsoft 365
We recommend that you choose Microsoft 365. Microsoft 365 ensures that you are always using the latest version of the Office programs, and it makes remote access and collaboration a breeze.
Microsoft 365’s email hosting is also extremely reliable and low cost when compared to hosting an in-house exchange server or relying on your website host’s email system.
Finally, the pricing for Microsoft 365 is extremely compelling when you consider the ongoing cost versus the upfront fee for licenses of Microsoft Office.