How does new Office 2019 compare to Office 2016, and do you need it?

October 10, 2018 |

greater than 8 minutes

On 24 September this year, Microsoft stated that it had made Office 2019 available to volume licensing customers. We believe general retail availability will come soon enough (probably some weeks after the initial announcement). Therefore, Microsoft Office 2019 release date for you largely depends on what Office package or category you are interested in purchasing (in Microsoft eyes, at least).

With the latest release, you cannot help but think that there are now three versions of Microsoft Office available, so users are spoilt for choice: Office 2016, Office 365, and Office 2019, which is the newest of the lot.

What is Office 2019?

Office 2019 is the stand-alone version of Microsoft Office, and unlike Office 365, it is not cloud-based. If you purchase a copy, you get a perpetual license for this product. By this, we mean when you buy the software, you more or less own it. Well, you can continue to use it for as long as you like (or forever). Microsoft, in this case, cannot force you to pay an annual subscription fee to access it.

If you buy Office 2019, then you need to know that Microsoft will allow you to use your license on a single PC or Mac. This setup seems to be in sharp contrast to the subscription Microsoft affords to buyers of Office 365 who can access the product on a PC, tablet, and a smartphone.

Office 2019 includes updated versions of the Word, Excel, and other programs found in Office 2016. Subsequently, Microsoft has tuned it up with some of the improvements or features that were embedded in Office 365 over the last three years.

When will Office 2019 be available? How much is it going to cost?

We stated earlier that Microsoft is already rolling out copies of Office 2019 to commercial-level customers. We would like to assume that you fall into the regular user category.

Microsoft is yet to release the consumer version (Office Home and Business 2019), but users already know how much it is going to cost them—$249. This fee might seem reasonable enough and appeal to a good number of people.

Perhaps, you are thinking of purchasing an Office 2019 license for the last time so that you do not have to pay a subscription fee to use Office 365. We must ask you to reconsider your decision.

Do I need a Microsoft Office 2019 license? Should I consider a different product?

From what we have seen so far, Microsoft itself does not think too highly of Office 2019. The operating system maker does well to claim that Office 2019 is directed toward users or firms that are not ready for or interested in moving to a subscription-based model, but if you try looking at things clearly, you will see that Microsoft is seriously undercutting people who go with Office 2019.

Invariably, users who purchase a copy of Office 2019 might come to realize that they have missed out on the real thing by not going with Office 365 instead. You will find out why soon enough.

For example, Microsoft was reported to have frozen the code for Office 365 far back in May. The reason they did this could not be more obvious.

Let us put it this way:

Users running Office 2016 will notice some new features if they upgrade to Office 2019. Office 365 users, on the other hand, will not. After all, the latter category of users already have all the latest features, some of which Microsoft failed to include in Office 2019.

By now, undoubtedly, you must have figured out that Office 2019 is the afterthought version Microsoft was forced to make available due to the firms or users that have no interest in joining in on the subscription model train. Essentially, Office 365 is the real deal.

Why you should go with Office 365?

We understand the subscription fee setup for Office 365 probably puts off many users, especially those who prefer to purchase a product once (and be done with it). However, in spite of this, you might be better off going with Office 365 instead of Office 2019.

The deals Microsoft offers for Office 365 are pretty good. Well, they are considerably better than the ones you can get for Office 2019. For emphasis, we will examine the Office 365 Home Subscription. This one will set you back about $99 every year.

With the subscription in view, six different users get to install the full desktop version of Microsoft Office on as many devices as they deem necessary. By this, we are referring to the installation of the regular Office applications like Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, and so on.

The only restriction to worry about in this scenario is the one that states a single person is allowed to use Office on one of his/her devices at a time, and to be fair, it does not count for much. Furthermore, the mobile and online apps for Office 365 becomes accessible to the users.

One last thing: Each user gets one terabyte of OneDrive space. This part of the package alone is more impressive than regular storage deals you can find online. You will struggle to find anything that beats it, and even if you did succeed in your search you must not forget that those offers cannot provide you with access to Office 365 apps.

In case you are still trying to figure things out, we will do the math and show you the results. For example, if six people were to purchase a license for Office 2019 to use on their devices, they will end up paying over $1000 in total. This amount roughly equals payment for 10 years of Office 365 subscription for the same six users. Admittedly, it is all clear now.

Other differences between Office 2019 and Office 365

Besides what has been said, there are other things you might want to take note of as regards the comparison between Office 2019 and Office 365.

  • Since you are expected to pay and buy Office 2019 once, you are basically done with it until the next upgrade or version comes along. Unfortunately, this means Microsoft will provide you with only security updates (as the operating system maker is obligated to), but you will not get access to feature updates.

On the other hand, users who have subscribed to Office 365 will enjoy their applications getting updated regularly with new features. If this information is not enough to discourage you from purchasing a license for Office 2019, then the next one might force your hand.

  • Microsoft stated that only computers running the latest version of its operating system (Windows 10) will be able to run Office 2019. For Apple’s ecosystem, only devices running the 3 most recent versions of Mac OS X will be able to use Office 2019, and this requirement is not even static. If Apple releases a new operating system, then the 3 most recent versions of Mac OS X will get a new member.

As you might have already guessed, Office 365, on the other hand, has fewer restrictions as regards the platforms, builds, or OS iterations it is allowed to run on without issues. Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 are all fair game. The same requirement for Macs, however, as in Office 2019, applies here too.

How Office 2019 measures up to Office 2016: What is new in office 2019 for Windows?

This question, perhaps, is the one most important to users who are looking to upgrade to Office 2019 from an older version like Office 2016. As far as we know, Microsoft has furnished Office 2019 with some of the new features Office 365 was equipped with to take the Office applications some levels up.

Microsoft Word:

According to Microsoft, most of the new improvements in Word will work to help you focus. The Focus mode makes an introduction here. It works by darkening the screen and enforcing changes that bring about a reduction of the displayed UI elements. Word will invariably have a new black theme.

Users will also gain access to new “Learning Tools”, which comprises of features like text-to-speech, text spacing, and other essential functionalities. If you run Office 2019 on a Mac, then you will see the customizable ribbons (more or less drop-down menus) in your interface for Word.

Microsoft Outlook:

Similar to what we have come to expect in Word, Microsoft is equipping Outlook with its own Focus Inbox. This functionality helps in the streamlining of workflows; it also assists users when they draft emails. Some commands to quickly tag people in emails are now functional. Contact cards are supposed to have become better.

If you are a PC user, then you will get access to travel and delivery cards. If you use Office 2019 on a Mac instead, then we expect you to see new email templates. You might also notice the Send Later function that helps schedule delivery times and related information or data.

Office 365 integration is now available, anyway, regardless of your platform.

Microsoft PowerPoint:

Most of the improvements in PowerPoint are geared towards enhancing media content and provision of support in presentations. Here are some of the key things to note: Support for 3D model manipulation or display; SVG files on presentations and new transitions involving Morph.

You might also be interested in the new functionality that allows you to export your presentations in 4K UHD video format; and depending on what you do, the ability to write by hand and move elements while you edit stuff might come in handy.


In terms of the volume of changes that occurred, OneNote takes the cake. The OneNote app included in Office 2019 is technically a new release. Nevertheless, OneNote 2016 will remain available; Microsoft has pledged to support it till the year 2025.

Well, the new OneNote app (commonly known as OneNote for Windows 10) provides support for Ink-to-Text. With this feature, you can turn your handwritten words into typed text. You might also notice the improvements to synchronization between devices.

In general, most of the improvements or changes involving the OneNote app are a result of Microsoft combining OneNote’s best features with Windows 10 usability. This way, an enhanced user experience, which seems to be the top priority these days, is achieved.


Before now, there seemed to be limited changes to the Excel app. Well, this time, you can see some updates comprising of new formulas and charts options, the introduction of support for 2D maps and timelines, and these things go a long way to improve the all-around presentation and organization of data.

If you use Office 2019 on a PC, then you will get updates to Power Pivot and Power Query. One last thing; the ability to export to power BI might also be in the updates pipeline.

Other changes and improvements:

Besides the changes you find in specific applications, some alterations apply to all the apps that make up the Office 2019 package. From the lot, you are most likely going to be interested in the improved support for digital pencils. For example, the base for “roaming pencil case”. With this feature in place, users can write by hand and control parts of their documents with their pencil.

Microsoft also went a step further to provide support for pressure sensitivity and the ability to recognize tilting movement. Moreover, there are other changes or improvements you probably will not notice. The security updates setup which runs monthly, for one; alterations to reduce your bandwidth usage is another.

Will Office 2019 replace Office 365?

No, it will not. We already established that Office 2019 is a standalone Microsoft Office package that select private users or businesses will purchase. Such people or firms most likely lack the internet connection required to access and use the cloud-based Office 365. Or perhaps, they possess the necessary bandwidth but all the same remain uninterested in switching to the annual subscription-based model for Office 365.

From what we explained, you might have finally figured out why a good number of the features present in Office 365 might be absent in Office 2019 (especially those functionalities that are dependent on the cloud or the ones that have something to do with internet access).

At this stage, there is not much point in us reiterating that Office 2019 will not replace Office 365. The former is just not a viable replacement for the latter.


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