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Microsoft Office has evolved over the years to become the most sophisticated and sought-after software suite. Having been launched in November 1990, Microsoft office has been around for more than 25 years. The classy features this software suite offers today are unrecognizable from the solutions and features in its earlier versions. Let’s see where it all started.

Microsoft Office’s spreadsheet, word processing, database, communication and word processing tools have without a doubt played a very important role especially when it comes to the Information Technology (IT) revolution. Nowadays, IT is the center of the core operations of modern businesses largely due to the accessible and easy-to-use desktop software packages. Evidently, Microsoft Office has made a huge contribution in transforming the way businesses work. It is continuously evolving in order to reflect the latest innovations and meet the users’ needs. Microsoft Office is currently installed in more than 1.5 billion desktop computers around the globe and it remains the most popular software suite in the world. Moreover, employees and business leaders around the world are continuing to innovate new ways of using Microsoft office solutions such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, SharePoint, Publisher, Outlook, Access, and the various other tools it offers. These solutions provide a great foundation for highly productive work in both large and small organizations across the globe.

Evolution of the Microsoft Office suite throughout the years

In November 1990, Microsoft Office started with just Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Its immense growth from there stimulated Microsoft’s revenue growth, which is approaching $100 billion. Although many other products and services are contributing to Microsoft’s revenue stream, Microsoft Office is certainly a cornerstone to the company’s growth and dominance.

It’s hard to imagine a world without the Microsoft Office suite. However, Microsoft office’s success story has been several years in the making. Although it’s been a long and bumpy way to the top, Microsoft’s Office suite has never been wary of taking calculated risks. The rise in Microsoft’s revenue has gone hand in hand with an office suite that is becoming increasingly sophisticated over the years.

  • November 1990: Office 1.0

    The very first Microsoft Office suite featured Word, excel and PowerPoint. Microsoft Office 1.0 became popular very quickly mainly because businesses really liked the idea of programs being offered by a single software company.

  • March 1991: Office 1.5

    Office 1.5 came with significant improvements to excel.

  • July 1991: Office 1.6

    This edition came with the addition of office to the Office suite.

  • August 1992: Office 3.0

    Office 3.0 was released and later renamed Office 92.

  • January 1994: Office 4.0

    Office 4.0 focused on word formatting and interface improvements.

  • June 1994

    Addition of Access to Office

  • August 1995: Office 1995

    Office 1995 came with the addition of bookshelf and exchange server which replaced mail. The naming convention was also changed to match the year of release.

  • November 1996: Office 1997

    Office 1997 came with the addition of Publisher and Outlook. This was meant to replace Exchange server and incorporate Schedule+. Office Assistant (the dancing paperclip) also made its debut in Office 1997.

  • June 1999: Office 2000

    This edition came with refined user elements and improvements in security.

  • May 2002: Office XP

    Office XP features were working on restricted mode particularly for corporate users

  • November 2003: Office 2003

    This Office version came with improved security, icons, toolbars and functionality. The features were also neatly arranged under menu tabs.

  • January 2007: Office 2007

    The Ribbon interface was introduced in Office 2007 making it easier to create professional documents. New tools were also introduced to the fluent user interface.

  • June 2010: Office 2010

    Office 2010 offered improved productivity experience enabling users to keep in touch even when on the move. It also came with the use of the same apps on PCs, web browsers and smartphones.

  • January 2013: Office 2013

    Office 2013 offered a new interface and design in order to facilitate touch-based gestures. It also enabled integration with numerous services including cloud computing.

  • September 2015: Office 2016

    Office 2016 comes with improved security. It’s also fully optimized for mobile and touchscreen devices. This office suite focuses on cloud integration.

Which Microsoft Office suite is best for you?

Although Office 2016 and Office 365 share numerous similarities, deciding among the two versions can prove to be a daunting task largely because it involves a lot of important factors.

Office 365 is a subscription service that uses the same apps offered by Office 2016. However, when the next Microsoft Office version is released, Office 365 users will get that as part of the subscription.

Office 2016 is a buy-once deal that offers the office 2016 apps just as they are. Therefore, users will not get any updates to future versions of the software. Moreover, users who want to upgrade to the latest Office suite without paying for subscriptions must pay the full price for the latest version because there are no discounted upgrade options.

Let’s break down all the major differences between Office 365 and Office 2016 to help you make the best choice:

    Apps and pricing

    As noted, Office 365 is a subscription service. If you pay on an annual basis, you’ll get a discount that translates to about 2 months per year. However, if you choose the monthly subscription, you’ll end up paying a bit more but you can back out of your subscription at the expiry of any month’s subscription.

    Therefore, if you need Office for just a few months per year, the monthly subscription plan is better for you. The annual subscription is ideal for people working from home. On the other hand, teachers and students working or enrolled at certain schools might be eligible for a subscription to Microsoft office 365 Education which is free. Qualified university students can also buy a 4-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 University.

    Office 2016 is a buy-once deal which is ideal for anyone who wants to buy the software and have it forever especially if you only want Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel.

    Office 2016 only receives bug and security updates without any new features that may come out in the future. Therefore, if you subscribe to Office 365 today and keep your subscription going until, say, 2022, you’ll have Office 2022. However, if you purchase Office 2016 today, and keep the same version till 2022, you’ll have the same Office 22016, without new features. Therefore, if you want the full of Microsoft Office apps, you must go with either Office Professional 2016 or Office 365.

    Multiple devices

    Microsoft Office 365 can be used on multiple devices. Therefore, if your household consists of people who use different devices and operating systems, Office 365 home would be the best choice. Office 365 Home can be installed on up to 5 phones, PCs, tablets or Macs. Office 365 Personal can only be installed once on each kind of device. However, you can still install it on one Mac or PC, phone, and tablet at once.

    It’s particularly important to remember that all Microsoft Office 365 versions can only be installed on 1 PC. Therefore, if you want to install Office on several PCs, you must purchase separate products.

    Windows 10 mobile users can access a free version of Office for Mobile on their tablets and phones. However, Office 365 mobile apps offer more features compared to the free apps. Therefore, you may want to go for a subscription especially if you do a lot of work on your tablet or phone. If you want to install Office on multiple devices, you should go with Office 365. However, if you want to install office on one PC without any plans of expanding, Office 2016 might be the best choice.

    Connectivity

    Even though Office 365 is a subscription-based service, you don’t need internet connection after the initial download in order to use Office apps. However, you need internet connection if you want to save your files to OneDrive. On the other hand, you can use the OneDrive app to sync files to your desktop to ensure that things will sync automatically whenever you’re connected to the internet.

    With Office 365, you need to connect to the internet every 39 days to maintain full functionality of Office apps.

    Office 2016 does not require you to sign in or connect to the internet following the initial download and installation. However, you still need to go online to download security updates. Therefore, Office 2016 might just be what you’re looking for particularly if you don’t have regular intenet connection.

    Support

    Microsoft Support staff will handle any technical, billing or subscription issues you encounter when using Office 365. However, Office 2016 offers tech support for initial installation problems only. Therefore, if you want constant tech support, Office 365 is the only choice. Office 2016 is ideal for people who can handle things on their own following installation.

    Cloud storage

    All Office 365 users have access to 1TB of cloud storage (OneDrive), which will be extended depending on the version you’ve purchased. For instance, if you buy Office 365 personal, you’ll have 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage all to yourself. On the other hand, if you buy Office 365 Home, you’ll have a separate 1TB of cloud storage for up to 5 users.

    Office 2016 does not offer any cloud storage and you’ll need to get ahold of a separate plan which will cost you.

    If you really need cloud storage for your Office documents and other files, you should go with Microsoft Office 365. Therefore, if you saved money by purchasing a PC with a small hard drive, the included 1TB of cloud storage might prove invaluable.

Bottom line

After understanding the main differences between Office 22016 and Office 365, it is clear that Office 365 generally has more to offer. The 1TB of cloud storage is an excellent deal and you can access all Office apps regardless of the version you purchase. On the other hand, office 365 users receive ongoing updates to ensure they’re actually getting the best experience possible.

However, Microsoft is still offering the buy-once model for people who hate subscription fees. Although Office 2016 costs a lot upfront, it’s still something to be thankful for especially if you want to buy Office once and use it for several years.