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Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2016

Office 2016’s launch has sparked many questions, most of which have revolved around its relation to Office 365. If you’re one of the many who find this all a little confusing, we’ve created a guide just for you! Here we’ve detailed the various Office 365 products and the similarities and differences between these products and Office 2016.


What is Office 365 and how does it relate to Office 2016?

The Office 365 brand name is used by Microsoft to represent a group of Software plus Services subscriptions that provide productivity software (including “Office 2016 apps”) and related services to subscribers. Office 365 is the delivery option that ensures updated features, security updates and bug fixes. You can still purchase Office 2016 as the traditional Office client version which is static and you would need to purchase a new version (on a 2-3 years cycle depending on when Microsoft releases an Office 2018 or 2019 for example) in order to receive updates. At the time of launch, Office 365 and Office 2016 are in parity. They will begin diverging with the monthly Microsoft releases starting November 1st though real functionality changes are not expected in the near future (through 2016) just security and bug fixes.


Office 365 vs. Office 2016: What’s the Difference?

 Office 365

  • Offers multiple purchase options but a recurring subscription model in all cases
  • Up to date software
    • Automatic updates will roll out to users on a monthly basis
    • Exception: administrators of the “Current Branch for Business” can choose to receive updates three times a year (this applies to Pro Plus) – click here for branching documentation from Microsoft
  • Office 2016 applications come with the Office 365 subscription
  • Can install across multiple devices
  • There are several features that come with Office 365 including Microsoft Support, Skype across several devices, and 1 TB of One Drive cloud storage


 Office 365 Options:

Office 365 Pro Plus

  • Free subscription to faculty and staff who work at qualifying schools
  • Installs Office on up to 5 devices
  • Subscription lasts as long as user works at qualified institution
  • IT administrator controls permissions


Office 365 Home

  • Subscription-based plan available across multiple devices (up to 5)
  • Always has most up-to-date version
  • Not possible to block updates
  • Customers using Office 2007 and later can open documents created using Office 365—customers on earlier versions need to install compatibility pack.


Office 365 Personal

  • Subscription-based plan available across 1 PC or Mac, 1 tablet, and 1 phone
  • Always has most up-to-date version
  • Not possible to block updates
  • Customers using Office 2007 and later can open documents created using Office 365—customers on earlier versions need to install compatibility pack.


Office 2016

  • Updates every few years depending on Microsoft’s unannounced release schedule
  • “Traditional Office” (successor to Office 2013)
  • One time purchase
  • Applications are not automatically updated
  • For use on single PC or MAC
  • For latest updates you must purchase again when update becomes available
  • 15 GB online cloud storage through One Drive


What’s the difference between Office 2016 suites and Office 365 plans? Per Microsoft on their FAQs: 


“With Office 365 subscription plans you get the full, installed Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access (Publisher and Access are available on PC only). You can install Office 365 across multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, Android tablets, Android phones, iPad, and iPhone.

Office as a one-time purchase includes applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for use on a single PC or Mac. The applications are not automatically updated; to get the latest version, you must purchase Office again when the new version becomes available. Current Office application versions available for one-time purchase are Office 2016 for Windows and Mac. Previous versions include Office 2013, Office 2011 for Mac, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2008 for Mac, and Office 2004 for Mac. Office 2010 and Office 2007 are compatible with Windows 8.1 and earlier. Office as a one-time purchase does not include any of the services included in Office 365.”


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