Microsoft Urges Customers Not to Buy Office 2019

Posted on February 6, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365, Office with 58 Comments

Yes, it’s true: Microsoft would prefer for its customers to not buy Office 2019. But that’s because Office 365 is superior.

“There’s a world of difference between the Office 365 and Office 2019,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro explains. “Office 365 includes fully installed Office applications—including the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. And these apps keep getting better over time, with new capabilities delivered every month. Most importantly, Office 365 is connected to the cloud, so you can access your content from any device, coauthor with anyone in real-time (regardless of whether or not they’ve purchased a copy of Office), and use the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create more impactful content with less effort.”

By comparison, the standalone Office 2019 application suite is “frozen in time,” because it is never updated with new features and is not cloud-connected, Microsoft says.

To test this claim, the firm pitted Office 365 and Office 2019 against each other in a head-to-head showdown, challenging three sets of twins to complete the same tasks in both versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The resulting videos are pretty interesting, if not surprising. You can find them on Microsoft’s new Showdown website.

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Comments (58)

58 responses to “Microsoft Urges Customers Not to Buy Office 2019”

  1. Tony Barrett

    So, MS would rather you start paying a monthly sub than buy a product outright. Call me shocked. I wouldn't be surprised if MS have intentionally crippled Office 2019 to make Office 365 look superior!

  2. scarper86

    I almost never encounter anyone who needs the "new features" that are supposed to make the newer versions of Office so much more appealing. Most people seem to need Office as a basic word processor and occasionally for spreadsheets but that's about it. I'm a writer and frequently work on documents that are 100,000 words or more and for the most part I could probably get by with Word 6.0. I recently found a great deal on perpetual Office 2016 for under $50 which is the only reason I upgraded from Office 2010. Paying monthly for the "superior" 365 would quickly become a waste of money for my needs.

  3. JaviAl

    Good recommendation because i'm think to buy Office 2019. Now, i will stick with my Office 2010 and save money because never in my life will I pay a subscription for a program that also stops working at the moment you stop paying.

    I'm not interested in anything related to cloud or mobile to work. I'm also not interested on mobile apps on desktop computers: UWP or Mobile/Cloud OS's: Windows 10.

  4. justme

    In a word - wrong (IMO).

    The fact that Office 2019 is never updated with new features and not cloud connected are reasons specifically for me TO buy it. Enough with the feature-creep already. I dont give a rats prostate (?) if I dont have the 'latest and greatest features. I dont need or want new features, I just want what I have to WORK (are you listening, Windows Update?). Stability is a big deal. Also, I dont want a suite of applications installed - I'd like to just install what I need. I got Office 2013 via the HUP program from work a few years ago and one of the things that drove me nuts was that the installer Microsoft told you to download installed ALL of Office. Finally, just because Office 2019 is not 'cloud connected' doesnt mean you cant use the cloud with it for those that need it.

  5. dontbe evil

    clcikbait misleading title

  6. Illusive_Man

    Well this is simply not true. Some of us don't like to just spend money simply because we have the means to.

  7. PcGuy8088

    I find it hard to convince small businesses with 3 users using the basic features of Office primarily Word and perhaps Excel to pay $150 per user per year for them to use those two apps as sparingly as some of them do. That is $450 plus 13% taxes on top of that for that privilege, Sure each person can install it on multiple devices they use but heck most of these people either have a single desktop or laptop and that is it. They have enough issues using a phone or tablet should they have one to do simple tasks let alone creating spreadsheets or composing Word files.

    They can buy a perpetual license version of Office for one last time for $150 plus taxes and install it on one machine. That is $450 one time. Some people larger businesses can more easily afford these expenditures that smaller businesses these days that have to weigh costs on an ongoing basis.

    These days everyone wants to get their hands on your wallet.

    Some can use the free office suites when it comes down to it.

    • William Clark

      In reply to PcGuy8088:

      We use the Home version. It comes with a 6 user license and can be had for $100 or less if you shop online. Likewise you can get Office Home for $50 for a 1 user license.

      The problem with your one-time cost and perpetual use is that sooner or later new versions of Office will have features that are incompatible with older versions. Then you'll be upgrading because you can't always be assured that you can open new docs with the old SW.

  8. Patrick Wingert

    I have a guest machine that I allow people to use when they come and visit. It has a copy of Office 2010 on it. I got the machine from a low income program refurbisher called reboot here in Toronto (great place by the way for getting basic computer for low income people and studfents!). The machine has an internet connection but is isolated from my identity and files. I did this so that if something were to be found on it that is morally or possibly illegal like a movie download then I can state categorically that the machine must have been used by a guest. The machine is DeepFreezed and resets every day as well to its locked confguration. I need a stand alone copy of office on this machine because I can't have it associating with my Microsoft ID. So I will get a copy of the basic Offcie 2019 for $CDN 169.00 and use it till the machine is EOL.

  9. Hoomgar

    I guess this is going to be completely subjectional on a per user basis?  Someone who lives, breathes and works mostly from Office in an ongoing manor year after year will obviously benefit from getting a 365 license.  The online feature set in that case is most likely a need any way.

    The average home user who might use an Office app one in a while cannot justify the cost since it could technically expire before they even need it and then that money was wasted.  Additionally considering that you can buy a stand alone local install of Office for about what you would pay for only one month of 365 service, maybe 2 months (depends).  A person like this most likely would be fine even with an older version.

    Then there is me.  I use Office-like apps soooooo infrequently that I cannot justify spending a dime on any of it.  I simply use a free tool like Open Office or LibreOffice and find that they contain way more than I would even need anyway for my needs.  Using the latest version of these free Office tools/apps I have never had an issue with compatibility that I could not easily resolve.

    So IMHO the whole subject matter of the article is completely based on -> 'It depends on the user's needs' <-

    So some like it hot, some like it cold...  some like it cheap, some like it free, I don't need it at all, but that's just me  :)


  10. jmikelis

    I'm still using Office '97 and see no reason to change. Recurring subscription charges will kill you.

  11. Gedisoft

    You're absolutely right. Even installing this thing (O19) is an incredible PITA. Previously there were setup.msi files for Office, Visio, Project, ...., now they (only) have microsoft deployment tool where you download something with an XML file you have to edit to get things installed i.e. "streamed to your computer" (sic). And you have to install things in the right order: installed Office first and now you want to install Visio, nope: first uninstall office and then install visio and then office.....Installed O19 and want visio 2016, nope, you can only install "streamed" versions of "setup" versions, but no mix...It's a ******* mess. We advice our customers to stay on 2016.

  12. TigerTom

    Looks like I'm in the minority but I like Office 365. I can access documents on my phone when I'm out and about, allowing me to check and quickly reply to emails.

    I can access all of my files on onedrive wherever I am, also doubles as a form of backup for all the files on the laptop. (I also back up to a hard drive at home, but it serves as an offsite backup just in case.)

    I'm on the insider program so I get the new features early on. For the price of a large coffee here in the UK I think it's pretty good value.

  13. mikes_infl

    For my SOHO, I left MS in ice at Office 2003. The effluent ribbon was the straw that broke this camel's back. It seemed that every new feature they added just introduced more and different irritations, if not outright bugs. We spent about 2 years trying to get 2007's ribbon to behave and when our application monitor showed that activation of 2003 almost always followed a couple of hours on 2007 we gave up and just started using 2003. It still works fine btw. And we didn't used to have trouble using third party apps for "cloud" storage - until the weather decided we didn't actually need an internet connection. Ooops - so much for our cloud access. There are just too many shortcomings for small companies that are already on a shoestring budget.

  14. Care

    Here's the thing. I want my files to sync to OneDrive, but I sure wish O365 wouldn't touch it directly. (I've turned autosave off and have it saving to my documents folder through the PC's folder path as the default. I think it thinks it's smart and going my to OneDrive directly; I think it recognizes that my documents folder is in my OneDrive folder.)

    The problem is that I open a lot of files - I work quickly and often change my mind and open a file I had just saved and closed - and then when I go to make a quick change and save, I get a message that the files are out of sync and that it has saved a copy. This is so frustrating, and has long and often happened with OneNote on my phone. But I never, ever had a problem with Office on my PC until an update that made all this change a couple of months ago. OneDrive was handling everything just fine. Now I'd love to be able to sign out of Office so it doesn't consistently mess it up. But I can't, because it needs to check that I'm currently subscribed. Grrr.

  15. BigM72

    I see it more like paying for OneDrive storage and getting Office included in the deal.

    £99 across four users is £25 each per year so basically £2/month each for 1TB of cloud storage. By itself, a decent deal.

    Then you add in Office, Outlook Premium, Skype 60 mins.

    Hard to say no.

  16. Marius Muntean

    of course...buying O2019 would mean users will not be guinea pigs for their unfinished broken updates.

  17. peterh_oz

    The main reasons for subscribing to 365 rather than buying outright are:

    Onedrive (1TB per user), having access to your files anywhere is invaluable once you realise that you can.

    Unlimited devices (5 in use simultaneously for Home, 1 for Personal). You can install on multiple devices without having to swap licence keys like the olden days.

    It's not about the updates - no-one cares about those. Microsoft just doesn't realise what the real strengths are!

    • igor engelen

      In reply to peterh_oz:can't agree more. 1TB for easy personal folders backup + photo backup for phones. All devices in the house are licensed. (With the Home subscription that is).
      Didn't have to think long about it. Already using it for a couple of years now.

  18. mafkart

    really very informative comments thanks for the updates i have been thinking of getting office 2019 guess its not as in level with office 365 :(.. Mafkart.

  19. William Clark

    I'm a little confused. Isn't Office 2019 the same as what you install on your laptop with Office 365? The issue I think people have with O365 is the recurring cost every year.

    Now, if you have a family or small business, O365 makes more sense because if you divide the cost out over the number of users it comes in way cheaper, on a per user basis.

  20. tutago

    Found this information very reliable, thanks for the information just keep it like this. this makes our work easy and confidant for our team.

  21. Patrick Wingert

    In my case I have a refurbished machine from a charity group called reboot. I have it as a guest machine and have set it so it can not access my network of my data. It came with Office 2010 on it. I can not install Office home premium because it would be attached to my one drive and my online resources and accounts. As a result I must ue the installed edition of Office 2019 if I want to upgrade the Office 2010. Its also a 32 bit machine which poses its own challenges. I tried installing Libre Office as an alternative but the install hung. I finally installed Apache Office 2019 without a hitch and it saved me nearly $CDN 365.00 versus buying a standalone copy of Office 2019. This should allow this low end machine work until 2025 After which I will replaces it with something new.

  22. mrclyfar

    I'd even consider still getting Office 2019 simply because OneNote 2016 is still superior to the OneNote for Windows app.

    I dislike the UI of the newer version, the sections and pages layout of OneNote 2016 is much easier for me to work with. Plus, the fact that I cannot save any notebooks on the PC (they must be created in the cloud) is annoying. When I open existing notebooks, created in OneNote 2016, the newer app tells me it must copy them to cloud storage in order to open them. WTF? Why?

    It could be that I missing something here, but on first impressions, there is no way I will stop using OneNote 2016 until there is a *very* good reason.

  23. jerquiaga

    Arguably, that's a distinction that Microsoft created. There's no reason they couldn't deliver the same new features through updates to Office 2019.

  24. jchampeau

    Can I buy Office 2384 and get the best of both worlds?

  25. spacein_vader

    "Office 365 includes fully installed Office applications"

    And for some reason insists you have ALL of them installed.

    Seriously MS, let me choose which ones I want so I don't have thinks like OneNote and Outlook taking up space and gatherinf virtual dust.

    • Hoomgar

      In reply to spacein_vader:  Office 365 doesn't install the apps on your PC.  Therefore it has a greatly reduced footprint on your system so there would be no point to not install everything since you will only use what you need and what you don't is of no affect to your resources.  The stand alone product is where this is an issue for some and then you simply customize your own install.  That is, unless I misunderstood what you were saying?

      • KingPCGeek

        In reply to Hoomgar:

        That is 100% incorrect. Office 365 by default installs every single program included in your tier on your PC. You have to use the Office administration kit to not have various programs install.

    • stewrogers

      In reply to spacein_vader:

      You can use the office customisation wizard to pick and choose what you install

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to spacein_vader:

      It's a common misconception that not installing one Office app or another will same a lot of space. It won't, because the shared code between all the applications. You can insert tables into a Word doc thanks to Excel, the same charts you get in Excel can be inserted into a PowerPoint presentation, and the email compose window in Outlook is basically just Word. Removing any one of these apps would save you almost no space, because most of the code for that app is still necessary to keep using whichever Office apps you do want.

  26. skane2600

    I just wish you could substitute Visio for PowerPoint. I see PowerPoint primarily as a middle-management and sales tool. I'm not interested in either of those activities.

  27. colin79666

    "Office 365 is connected to the cloud, so you can access your content from any device, coauthor with anyone in real-time"

    That would be true if Office 365 wasn't becoming Office 364/363/362... Some businesses value reliability and total control over where their data is stored over new features. Office was pretty much done at 97 for a lot of people.

  28. ugaco07

    This is the old I'm a Mac vs I'm a PC ads all over again, except instead of Apple being the one trolling Microsoft with the ads it's Microsoft doing it to themselves.

    So bizarre.

  29. Bats

    LOL...Showdown? Really? Showdown? So, over the years, Microsoft tries to "showdown" against their adversaries and literally gets their butts handed by them. So, since Microsoft has failed against Google, Sony, Amazon, Apple, etc...., I guess the next logical group of people they can "showdown" is........................................................themselves? (LOL, that's funn!)

    I wouldn't listen to them with regards to Office 20xx.

    Right now, I can get Office 2019 (or whatever) for $9.95 via HUP program. Why would I want to upgrade? 

    The fact is, Office 365 isn't any different than then components that make up Office 2019, 2016,...... 2007.'s just not. The fact that I can easily operate Word/Excel 2010 and Word/Excel 2016 without a skip on my step, tells me that Office 365 in the Year 2025 may not be any different.

    • warren

      In reply to Bats:

      Sure, and a car built in 2007 still works fine, too. You just miss out on a bunch of quality-of-life improvements.

      Like.... for me, the new "Black theme" in Outlook is great. No, not the "dark gray" they came with Office 2016.... this is black. Goes well with Windows 10 Dark Mode, Spotify, etc.

      There's a new "one-line ribbon" mode, too, which is a nice half-way point between the Ribbon, and the toolbar style of Office 2003. Overall, it just looks a lot cleaner and more legible.

      They also just added options to enable or disable showing the meeting reminder window on top of other windows, and to automatically dismiss past meetings.

      I care about this stuff because I spend hours in Outlook every day.

      • Illusive_Man

        In reply to warren:

        Those aren't enough to have Microsoft constantly in my wallet every month.

        Dark mode is already in need to subscribe.

        Ribbon...who cares...the design is certainly more modern but not necessarily better.

    • Hoomgar

      In reply to Bats:  I guess that is what I am struggling with too?  Why would you invest money in an add campaign that is targeted against one of your own product offerings?  It's fine to show all the great stuff 365 can do for you but don't flame your base offering.  If you really don't want to sell it don't.  Quit writing it.  This whole thing strikes me as being really stupid.  I think I need coffee now  :|

  30. Dan1986ist

    when it comes to Office 365, Microsoft is either getting monthly or annual payments from those including myself paying for it, compared to those who get Office 2019 and pay once. Either way, you are still licensing Office from Microsoft and Microsoft is earning a profit for their shareholders.

  31. Darekmeridian

    If there is an obscure ass-backwards point to make, Microsoft will make it.

    Someone needs to tell them Google Apps exist, you guys could compete with them instead of yourselves.

  32. Pbike908

    I use LibreOffice on my Windows laptop if I need something offline -- else I use either Google Docs or MS Office on line.

    Since I use Android for mobile, I find myself using Google Docs more often than MS Office.

  33. BudTugglie

    I got Office 2010 for $10 thru my employer's discount a long time ago. It does all that I need, and a lot more that I'll never need. The few bells & whistles added since are minor. Hard to understand why anyone would pay an annual fee for Office. My company runs Office 2016 and will likely stay there.

    LibreOffice is my main personal PC tool now , now that Linux is my daily driver system. It also does all that I need. I only keep a windows box around for a couple of apps that don't run on Linux. I boot windows about once per week for an hour or so. Still, I have to pray that I don't lose on the Windows10 update weekly 'Russian roulette' game.

    I was a die-hard Microsoft user since the pre-windows days of DOS until Windows 8 finally drove me to Linux.

  34. red.radar

    Office 2019 is cheaper. That is all that needs said.

    You can buy Office 2019 run it for 5-10 years and that works out to a very low monthly cost. At home I don't care about collaboration; its not needed I can email the file if I need to share. I don't need realtime editing capabilities. In fact the odds are high that the user I am collaborating with doesn't know what realtime collaboration is and doesn't even have Office365 to make it work. Also they just dont understand the value of realtime collaboration and dont want someone editing a document while they are engaged. Its distracting. They prefer I email a snapshot so they can focus.

    I also don't need "AI" spying on me.

    The cloud is a predatory business model that gets you to pay over and over again for the same functionality and it subsidizes the development for those 5% features that you will never use. I am not paying to make Office better for business customers. I am also not buying Microsoft a 2TB harddisk every year to add to their pool but only give me the same 1TB in return.

    The cloud is a terrible value for the home user.

  35. souray

    Interesting and informative article indeed

    I would like to say that I am absolutely happy with Office 2016.

    There is no point of shifting for the time being.