Essentially there are three avenues to pick from if you want to continue using Microsoft Office applications within a safe and compatible framework: You can switch to a more recent Office version with longer support – so to Office 2016 or Office 2019 – or move to Microsoft’s cloud suite Office 365, which is available as a subscription model (and interestingly packs the familiar Office applications for local installation as well).
Microsoft’s Office 2016 was released as a non-time-limited purchase version for Windows and Mac in September 2015. The product will continue to receive mainstream support until October 10, 2020, while extended support runs until October 14, 2025.
Unlike Office 2010, the Office 2016 version is optimized to run smoothly with cloud applications like OneDrive, Skype and Yammer, which is a blessing for team collaboration especially. A document saved to OneDrive or SharePoint Online can be shared and edited by different users in real time, directly from local applications like Word, PowerPoint or OneNote, without leaving the program. That said, these functions will only be available in Office 2016 until October 13, 2020 (the end of support for Office 2010). In addition, Office 2016 offers a new user-friendly design (Metro) that is optimized for touchscreens, wider format support compared to Office 2010 and improved security features.
Office 2019 was released in September 2018. Like Office 2016, it is scheduled to receive five years of mainstream support, until October 10, 2023, to be precise. But it is important to note that Microsoft describes Office 2019 as a “one-time release” that will not receive any feature updates (feature extensions or improvements), and instead only quality and security updates. Another difference to Office 2016: Microsoft will only provide another two years of extended support for Office 2019 afterwards, which will end on October 14, 2025 – the same day as support for Office 2016.
Office 2019 is the first version of Microsoft Office that will only run on Windows 10. Like Office 2016, the most comprehensive version of Office 2019 (Professional Plus) comes with the applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, while the Windows version includes Publisher, Access, Project, Visio and the Skype for Business Client (requires Skype for Business Server or Online service) as well. OneNote was removed from the Windows version of the suite in Office 2019 and above, with Microsoft directing users to the OneNote app included in Windows 10; additional installation of OneNote 2016 is still possible, though.
Compared to Office 2016, the 2019 version comes with a host of improved details that were released as part of Office 365 in recent years. Among them are enhanced design features (support for the SVG format Scalable Vector Graphics and others), new animation features in PowerPoint – including morph and zoom functions, functions for freehand editing, auto-saving and translation – as well as new formulas and diagrams for data analysis in Excel.
Office 365 is a set of cloud-based subscription services for office, productivity and teamwork solutions. It includes the standard Office applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote both as web versions (Office Online) as well as in the form of full programs for installation on Windows and Mac systems. The package also comes with apps for PC, Mac, Android and iOS, along with a variety of online services like OneDrive for Business (with a terabyte of cloud storage), the collaboration tools SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Teams, i.e. Skype for Business, the application Sway for interactive, browser-based reports, presentations, newsletters and other things, as well as self-service business intelligence features in Excel (as per April 15, 2019).
Office 365 has been developed steadily since its first release in 2011. Subscribers receive monthly feature updates and therefore use the latest version at all times. Billing is user-based and not per device.
Many new applications and features are only available in a cloud environment, reflecting Microsoft’s wish to focus on the cloud in developing its enterprise applications. Microsoft provides these features to differing degrees within the framework of its Office 365 Business or Office 365 Enterprise plans.