If companies want to purchase Microsoft's Office package today, the manufacturer offers them a variety of options. Customers not only have to decide between a subscription and a permanent license, but also make choices about update intervals and support periods.

After support for Office 2010 expires in October this year, affected companies will most likely need to update. However, if you have not dealt with Office licensing since you bought version 2010, you will probably be surprised by the number of purchase options.

An obvious choice could be to simply purchase a package with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. for each PC again. This is still possible, even if a few things have changed.

Office 2019

Office 2019 is currently the designated successor to the 2010, 2013, and 2016 versions. Microsoft only uses the year as a version number for packages that include just the known desktop applications and for which you acquire a perpetual license. As usual, retail and volume licenses are available.

For companies, Microsoft offers Office 2019 in Standard and Professional Plus editions. The former includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Publisher is only available for Windows, not for Mac. Professional Plus also includes Access and Skype for Business. In both cases, Visio and MS Project must be purchased separately.

Editions of Office 2019 for businesses

Editions of Office 2019 for businesses

The installation is no longer done as an MSI package, but via click-to-run. This procedure automatically copies all Office applications to the PC, always to the system drive (which cannot be changed). If you want to choose the applications to set up, you can use the Office Deployment Tool.

The support period has also changed, but not to the benefit of the customers. The usual 5 + 5 years for basic and extended support have been changed to 5 + 2 years; thus, the lifecycle of Office 2019 ends on October 14, 2025.

An update for this flavor of Office is available every 3–4 years, so that it is in sync with the intervals of the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) for Windows 10. This correlation is not accidental; in fact, users of Windows 10 LTSC can only run Office 2019 and Microsoft does not support Office 365 on this operating system.

The minimum requirements for Office 2019 are generally Windows 10 and Server 2019; on older versions of the OS, you must use one of the previous versions. Customers who have purchased extended security updates for Windows 7 will receive support for Office 2013 and 2016 up to January 10, 2023.

Office 365

The Office 365 brand is often used inaccurately, for example, to describe only cloud services such as Exchange Online. In fact, there are multiple packages comprising online services and applications.

While all home versions for private users also include the classic desktop applications (in varying combinations), the desktop applications are completely missing from Business Essentials and Office 365 E1, for example. Common to all versions of Office 365 is that they are only available by subscription. Business subscriptions are billed per user and per month.

Microsoft is targeting Office 365 Business at smaller companies (up to 300 users) and offers four subscriptions for enterprises. The main difference between the packages is the cloud services included. In E5, this covers practically the entire portfolio of Microsoft's online applications. In addition, the SMB versions do not include the Publisher app.

A major disadvantage of Office 365 Business is that its applications cannot be managed using Group Policies. They don't support the recently introduced Office Cloud Policies as an alternative either.

Subscriptions of Office 365 for medium sized companies

Subscriptions of Office 365 for medium sized companies

The web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are always included, and the e-subscriptions offer Outlook too. The Office app for iOS and Android, which has recently been released in a new version, is basically free of charge. If you sign up with an Office 365 subscription, it will offer you additional features.

Enterprise plans for Microsoft Office 365

Enterprise plans for Microsoft Office 365

While a user may install Office 2019 on only one computer (PC or Mac), Office 365 allows using the programs on up to five devices per user. For mobile devices, this can be the app or the web version.

Whereas Office 2019 effectively represents the Long-Term Servicing Channel, the Office applications within the various O365 subscriptions are updated at shorter intervals. As with Windows 10, Microsoft publishes the desktop programs in distribution rings: the monthly, the semi-annual channel (SAC), and the semi-annual channel targeted (SAC-T) releases.

Distribution rings for the desktop applications in Office 365

Distribution rings for the desktop applications in Office 365

While the monthly updates are mainly suitable for testing macros and add-ins, the SAC-T release is intended for selected pilot users who test the new version under real conditions. The actual migration then follows via the SAC, where an update appears with a delay of about four months after the SAC-T.

As is the case with Windows as a Service, admins are also obliged to update their computers to a supported version on a regular basis. Under the Modern Lifecycle Policy, support for the Office 365 applications ends after 18 months, and the clock starts ticking as soon as the application appears in the SAC-T.

Just like the Office 2019 applications, Office 365 requires at least Windows 10. For some time now, Office 365 ProPlus can also be used on Server 2019.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is also a bundle of applications and cloud services. In addition to Office 365, the bundle contains other products that are primarily focused on the management and security of end devices.

As with Office 365, Microsoft also differentiates between plans for medium and large companies. For example, Microsoft 365 Business includes Information Rights Management, Advanced Threat Protection, and MDM with Intune, while the Microsoft 365 Enterprise versions add Windows 10 Enterprise and Azure AD Premium on top of that.

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Application and services of Microsoft 365 Business

Application and services of Microsoft 365 Business

The objective of a fully equipped Microsoft 365 is obviously to provide companies with an entire stack of software and services via a subscription model that covers most of the requirements of a knowledge worker. It ranges from the client OS to extensive cloud services, with costs in the mid-double-digit range per month and user.

  1. Leos Marek (Rank 4) 3 years ago

    Nice summary Wolfgang. Me and my colleague use Business Essentials and I found the value for 100€ per year for our two users to be incredible. All the online tools, like Teams, etc, plus 1TB storage.. 🙂

  2. Wolfgang Sommergut 3 years ago

    Thanks Leos! So how do you license the desktop apps if they are not part of your subscription?

    • Leos Marek (Rank 4) 3 years ago

      Hehe I still have older Office version that was purchased as a box product 🙂 Will keep that for some time, untill everything works well with it.

  3. Wolfgang Sommergut 3 years ago

    BTW, your Business Essentials will be called "Microsoft 365 Business Basic" from 21st April on. All names change by then. Seems like MS Marketing is bored and has to find some way to become creative 🙂

    • Leos Marek (Rank 4) 3 years ago

      Or, bring more confusion to their products 😀

    • Microsoft decided to rebrand Office products. It is only a commercial strategy, just to give more focus on their products .

      • Leos Marek (Rank 4) 3 years ago

        Not quite sure if everyone can agree or understand to such statement. Their strategy was never so clear, not speaking about different product names in different times, etc.

  4. BTW, it is an interesting and exhaustive article. Thanks.

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